At each annual general meeting of a strata corporation, a strata council is elected. How is membership on a strata council determined and who is eligible for membership on the strata council?
Section 29 of the Strata Property Act describes membership on council as follows:
29(1) The number of persons on council is determined by the bylaws.
Therefore the strata corporation’s Bylaws should be inspected in order to determine the number of persons who may serve on the strata council. Standard Bylaw 9 specifies that for strata corporations with more than four strata lots, the council must consist of at least three and not more than seven members. At strata corporations with four or fewer strata lots, all owners are members of the strata council.
Owners can however, change their bylaws through a process described in the Act. Your strata property manager can help the council with implementing this process; however, councils should seek legal advice in regards to the suitability of specific bylaws.
29(2) If a strata lot is owned by more than one person, only one owner of the strata lot may be a council member at any one time with respect to that lot, unless all the owners are on the council.
If more than one person owns a strata lot, those owners may wish to discuss and decide who will accept a nomination or volunteer to serve on the strata council.
29(3) If a strata lot is owned by a corporation, only one representative of the corporation may be a council member at any one time with respect to that lot.
If a corporation owns a strata lot, the Directors may have to appoint a person to represent the corporation before that person accepts a nomination or volunteers to serve on the strata council. The Directors of corporations who own strata lots should obtain legal advice in this regard.
29(4) If all the owners are on the council, each strata lot has one vote at council meetings.
Section 28 of the Strata Property Act describes who is eligible for the strata council as follows.
28(1) The only persons who may be council members are the following:
(b) Individuals representing corporate owners;
(c) Tenants who, under section 147 or 148, have been assigned a landlord’s right to stand for council.
It is easy to understand that owners and individual owners representing corporate owners are eligible to serve on the strata council, however, in some situations a tenant can also eligible to serve on the strata council.
Section 147 of the Act sets out that a landlord may assign to a tenant some or all of the powers and duties under the Act but may not assign a landlord’s responsibility under section 131 for fines or the costs of remedying a contravention of the bylaws or the Rules. Because an owner may be a council member under Section 28(1)(a), an owner who rents his or her strata lot may assign this right to his or her tenant. The word may is underlined because the assignment is conditional. Section 147.2 reads as follows:
147.2 The assignment is not effective until the landlord gives the strata corporation a written notice stating all of the following:
(a) The name of the tenant to whom the assignment is made;
(b) The powers and duties that have been assigned;
(c) The time period during which the assignment is effective.
If a residential strata lot is leased under a long term lease defined as being 3 years or longer to the same person, the situation is more definitive in that the tenant is assigned the landlords rights.
Section 148 of the Act reads as follows:
148 (1) In this section, “long term lease” means a lease to the same person for a set term of 3 years or more.
148(2) If a residential strata lot is leased under a long term lease, the tenant is assigned the powers and duties of a landlord under the Act, the bylaws and the rules for the term of the lease.
148(3) Before exercizing any powers of the landlord, the tenant must have given to the strata corporation written notice of the assignment referred to in subsection (2), stating the name of the tenant and the time period during which the lease is effective.
148(4) The strata corporation must give a copy of the notice referred to in subsection (3) to the landlord and to the owner.
148(5) The assignment does not include an assignment of the landlord’s responsibility under section 131 for fines of the costs of remedying a contravention of the bylaws or rules.
148(6) The tenant must not, without the owner’s consent, exercise any power or right of an owner
(a) to acquire or dispose of land,
(b) to cancel or amend the strata plan, or
(c) to do anything that would affect the owner’s interest in the strata lot, common property or land that is a common asset
148(7) The landlord must not deal with his or her interest in the strata lot, common property or land that is a common asset in a way that unreasonably interferes with the rights of the tenant under the lease or assignment.
A strata lot owner who is considering leasing his or her unit under a long term lease should be aware of this section and seek legal advice and perhaps the advice of a professional rental manager, particularly if they are concerned about their rights being assigned to the tenant under this section of the Act.
Strata lot owners who are considering renting their strata lot to a family member as defined in the Strata Property Act Regulations should be aware of Section 142 of the Act. While a bylaw that restricts an owner from renting a strata lot does not apply to a rental to a family member, strata lot owners need to be aware of subsection 3 which reads as follows:
142(3) A rental of a strata lot to a family member under this section creates an assignment of the owner’s powers and duties under Section 148.
Therefore if you rent your unit to a family member, an assignment of your rights under the Act is created under Section 148 of the Act.
Section 28 of the Strata Property Act provides for other classes of persons to serve on the strata council and to restrict eligibility.
28.2 Despite subsection (1), the strata corporation may, by a bylaw passed at an annual or special general meeting held after the first annual general meeting, allow classes of persons, other than those referred to in subsection (1), to be council members.
A strata corporation may, for example allow spouses of owners as a ‘class’ of persons to be eligible for the council.
28.3 Despite this section, a strata corporation may, by bylaw, provide that no person may stand for council or continue to be on council with respect to a strata lot if the strata corporation is entitled to register a lien against that strata lot under section 116 (1).
Councils interested in amending their bylaws to allow for different classes of persons to be eligible for council or to restrict eligibility to serve on council, should obtain legal advice and legal assistance with preparing suitable bylaws. The strata council can consult with the strata property manager for assistance with the process required to change the bylaws.