Strata Duplexes: When Strata Properties Don't Seem Like Strata

Every so often, when hunting for the perfect strata property, you might come across a strata duplex that seems more like a regular house than a strata.

So what does that exactly mean to you as a buyer?

It means a couple of things, actually.

Recently we showed our buyers a lovely duplex in Fernwood that clearly had a strata plan and common property, but it certainly seemed closer to a single-family home. One major way it didn’t seem like a normal strata property is that there was no monthly strata fee involved.

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Sometimes you will see strata duplex listings that say things like, “NO STRATA FEES!” How can that be, you say? Technically, it can’t be. Although you will encounter strata duplexes that don’t act like normal stratas (i.e. no monthly meetings, up-to-date financials, etc.), at minimum, legally, these properties do need to have at least an annual general meeting and common insurance.

The common insurance is the big component here. While these properties may choose to look after their own building and yard maintenance at their own personal expenses, insurance technically can’t be one of those things. Insurance for the common property (i.e. exterior, windows, roofs, common property, etc.) has to be in place. This may not translate to a specific monthly strata fee, but there should always be some kind of common cost to cover this insurance.

We recently learned about a bare land strata property up in Langford that burned to the ground and only after the home was cinders did they realize they weren’t insured properly because they were a strata and had no common insurance.

Now, one major way a strata duplex will always be normal is that there will be a strata plan registered with the land title office, indicating the common property and the strata lot property. Usually parking spots will be indicated here, too, as well as the boundaries of the strata lots.

Obviously the big thing with those boundaries is it lets you know what you have to look after and what the other half will. Typically exterior maintenance will be a collaborative effort (granted both sides are on board) and be treated like a single-family home. For example, if the roof needed to be replaced, you typically would work together and split the cost depending on the split of the strata lots.

Strata duplexes can be a great buy, but they require some extra due diligence and some extra knowledge. You need to know what you’re signing up for and be prepared to shoulder more maintenance responsibility than your average condo or townhouse.

Have more questions on how strata duplexes are different or if they might be a good fit for you? Let us know! We’re always happy to talk.

Until next time.

Kaley + Mike