Strata living has its perks: amazing urban locations close to public transportation, being part of a community without having to do yard work or home maintenance, enjoying amenities like fitness centres, party lounges and pools at your doorstep. Just don’t forget that those perks come at a price – a monthly strata fee.

What are strata fees and how are they determined?

Your monthly strata fees are used by the strata corporation to pay the common expenses of the development. Your individual fee is assessed by taking the total cost of the strata’s expenses and dividing that by the unit entitlement of your strata lot. The larger square footage of your home, the bigger your fee.

Where does the money go?

There are two funds that every strata corporation in BC must maintain: an operating fund and a contingency reserve fund (CRF). The operating fund is used to pay for by the strata corporation to pay the common expenses that maintain the building or occur more than once over the course of a year. This includes building insurance, property manager’s fees, gardening, garbage collection, water, maintaining common property, upkeep of amenities, cleaning, repairs, etc. The CRF is the fund typically used to pay for expenses that occur less than once a year, or more unusual expenses. This might include a lobby upgrade, new roof, new gutters, etc.

How much is a typical strata fee?

Strata fees vary greatly from area to area and building to building. It is difficult to compare fees directly because they depend on the management style of the strata as well as the type of amenities that are offered. In general, monthly strata fees in Metro Vancouver range between 25 and 59 cents per square foot. The average range is 35 to 40 cents. The higher end is typical for buildings with ‘wet’ amenities such as pools, hot tubs, water features and other luxurious expenses like 24 hour concierge service.

Questions to Ask

For new communities, developers create an estimated overall budget so that you know what your anticipated monthly strata fees will be. If there’s a shortfall between the proposed and actual operating expenses in the first year, then the Strata Property Act will impose a penalty on the developer.  If you’re looking for a second opinion on the overall budget, check with an experienced realtor, lawyer, accountant or property manager.  When you’re purchasing a resale home, you should confirm if your fees include such utilities as hot water, heat and gas. Also, how much money is being contributed to the reserve fund each year, and is it enough to cover unanticipated expenses? When is the building warranty expiring? Have any major repairs, like a new roof, been recently made or are planned? Check the minutes of past strata council meetings to ensure you have a clear understanding of what’s been completed, where money is being allocated and spent and whether the council is proactive or tends to do the bare minimum – which could lead to greater issues. As usual, some basic due diligence before you buy will help you avoid issues down the road.

Contact us today to learn more about how FirstService Residential can make a difference in your strata community.
Thursday July 18, 2019