A Maple Ridge couple expecting their first child will see changes to strata regulations after they were told they wouldn’t be able to live in their newly purchased condo after the birth of their baby because the complex was moving to a 55-years and older policy.
In October last year Razan Talebian and her husband were looking to purchase a place to live and had already been eyeing a unit at the Colonial West complex at 20554 118 Avenue in Maple Ridge.
At the time strata rules for the property would only allow for those 35-years and older to live in the complex.
As Talebian and her husband were only 27 and 29 years old, they decided to keep searching.
However, the provincial government changed strata age-restriction bylaws, and as of November 24, removed a minimum age, if less than 55-years-old. Only bylaws restricting the age to 55 and older remained in effect.
Talebian and her husband were elated.
“So we were absolutely excited. We put in an offer the next day and we were about to start our life here,” she said.
Trouble began in January when Talebian discovered she was expecting her first child.
After noticing there were no other children in the complex she confided in a strata board member and was immediately told to watch out because there was going to be a fight.
About three weeks after her conversation with the board member, a notice of a special general meeting was called for residents of the building about a vote to implement an age restriction at the building so only those older than 55 years could live there.
Allen Regan, senior management with Bayside Property Services Ltd., the management company in charge of the complex, explained a bylaw is contained in a notice of general meetings, either an AGM or an SGM notice, and requires a three quarter vote resolution.
Meaning, in order to pass a bylaw, three quarters of the owners, at the meeting in-person or by proxy, for those who are not at the meeting, must vote in favour of it.
He added existing residents are exempt to age restriction bylaws that come into effect.
This would mean that even though Talebian and her husband would technically be able to continue living in the complex because they would be exempt from a new bylaw, their baby would not, because technically they are not alive yet and not an existing resident.
The meeting on Wednesday, Feb 8, was an open floor format where residents could address their concerns. Some, said Talebian, were concerned about not being able to afford to install disability aids, others said it would be more difficult to rent out their units, and others were concerned about the value of the units going down.
But the other side did not want children living in the complex, noted Talebian.
“I knew they knew I was pregnant,” she said, so she spoke up and asked what it would mean for her own children. Talebian said she was mocked and laughed at by the board, telling her that her baby was not physically born yet.
“Legally I was allowed to be pregnant. Legally I was allowed to start a family here. Legally, yeah, I bought into this complex, and now you are saying that I can’t have my child here,” she asked incredulously, noting how humiliating it was for her.
“It was just like me against the world at that point,” she said.
The vote was then held and the new bylaw was effective immediately.
Talebian added that it wasn’t like they bought in to a complex that already had restrictions and then decided to have children.
“I did everything legally correct,” she said.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon noted the province has since stepped in and policy work is underway with regulatory amendments to be proposed “soon”.
“Although only a very small number of strata units are affected at this point by strata corporations moving to 55+ restrictions, it’s disappointing to see some strata corporations making decisions with regrettable and unintended consequences to strata owners under the age of 55, especially young families,” said Kahlon.
Kahlon elaborated that while the government supports 55 plus buildings overall, he said, the Condo Homeowners Association and others continue to warn stratas about the potential unintended consequences of a move to 55 plus, including potential impacts on unit values.
He urged stratas to carefully consider this change before moving forward.
“In the meantime, we strongly encourage any strata corporations considering the adoption of age-based restrictions to thoroughly consider all the potential impacts of such an action.”
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