Understanding Recent Changes to Age Restrictions in Strata Corporations

May 25, 2023

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Posted by
Matt Mayers
Senior Policy Analyst

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In late-2022, strata corporations were no longer allowed to make age-restricting bylaws for persons under 55 years old. The intent of this policy was to make more strata units available to more British Columbian families. This means that any current age restrictions under 55+ are unenforceable.

However, as anticipated by BCREA and other stakeholders, the amendments had the unintended negative consequence of restricting more families from accessing strata units, as many units moved from 19+ bylaws to adopting 55+ bylaws.

Since then, exemptions have been expanded, coming into force as of May 1, 2023. These changes create exemptions for children (including adult children), caregivers, as well as spouses or partners who are under 55 years old. The exemption of caregiver is flexible and wide, and can include a nurse, physical therapist, housekeeper, or other person. This means that an occupant, whether owner or tenant with a legacy exemption can have their spouse, partner, or children, including adult children, live with them at any time after the age-restriction bylaw is passed, even if they do not meet the age criteria.

Bylaw enforcement is complaint-driven, meaning that strata councils should require evidence from the complainant before it investigates an alleged bylaw infraction. A hunch may not be enough to trigger an investigation.

BCREA has received many questions from REALTORS® about how these changes will affect their clients. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers related to the strata changes. Please note that the legislation appears to have some ambiguities that may require interpretation by a legal professional.

Can someone under 55 years old buy a strata in a 55+ building and rent it to someone who is over 55 years old?
The Strata Property Act cannot limit ownership, only occupancy. However, the occupant must be 55 or older, unless they are grandfathered in or exempt. For example, a 45-year-old can purchase a unit in a 55+ building, but cannot live there. They can rent to a tenant who is 55+.

Are occupants or renters under 55 years old grandfathered-in?
If the renter was in the unit before the bylaws changed, then they are grandfathered-in and allowed to remain. Existing occupants, whether owners or tenants, are exempt from a new bylaw. The exemption also covers adult children of the occupant or former dependents of current residents moving back home with their parent(s) or caregivers. If the occupant moves out, then the new tenant must be 55+.

What if there is a change in family status for a strata resident who is exempt from the bylaw?
Persons 19 years old or older who reside in a strata unit when a 55+ bylaw is adopted are exempt from the bylaw for the duration of their occupancy. This also includes their families or a change in family status, such as when they have expanded their family with more children or when there is a new spouse or marriage-like relationship.

What evidence can be used to verify age or exemptions?
Evidence can include driver’s licenses, passports, statutory declarations (for caregivers or persons without an ID), credentials, or certifications.

For more information, check out the Canadian Home Owners Association’s presentation in partnership with BC Housing.

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