Before I answer the question, if all duplex’s are non-conforming stratas, it is important to understand what a strata is and why they exist. In the lower-mainland we have a strata property act that dictates certain rules that all strata owners must abide by. One of the major points to understand is that within a strata owners pay maintenance fees (in the USA they are called HOA fees). What do maintenance fees cover? They cover the overall upkeep of the buildings common space. This included windows, roofs, siding, hallways etc. It does not include the space within your home such as your flooring or your drywall. Each month maintenance fees go toward upkeep and left over money typically goes into a contingency reserve fund. The contingency fund acts as a savings plan for when something major comes up. Getting a new roof, elevator or fixing the exterior of the building generally calls for some funds from the contingency fund. When the contingency fund isn’t large enough that is when owners get dinged for a special levy. More on this in a later blog…
What Is a Non-conforming Stata?
Now that we have a general idea of what a strata is, let’s turn our focus to what is a non-conforming strata. We typically see these in duplexes and other small multi-unit dwellings. Not ALL but most duplexes that you will see in Vancouver are non-conforming. This means that the owners typically do not pay a strata fee or if they do pay a fee it is much smaller. It also means that the owners are responsible for the upkeep of their property on their own. They buy their own building insurance and if they want to replace the roof they organize that with the other owners. We are seeing more and more 1/2 duplexes being built throughout Vancouver as developers are looking at ways to make more affordable housing.
Typical Types of Duplexes
There are typically two types of duplexes, front and back or side by side. Front and back duplexes are becoming more and more popular as single family lots are being rezoned to two-family dwellings and duplexes are being built. The front duplex will have access to the front yard and be responsible for the upkeep of the front while the back owner will be responsible for the back. Often the garage has been split in 2 and each owner gets a side. These are almost always non-conforming stratas. They do not have monthly strata meetings, do not have maintenance fees, and not rely on a strata council to make changes. Non-conforming stratas are slowing becoming more and more popular and can be a great way for a family to enter the market when they cannot afford single family home on their own. For those who do not like paying “strata fees” this can also be a great way to avoid those. Just keep in mind that you are responsible for the upkeep of the building.
If you have any questions about non-conforming stratas or 1/2 duplexes within Vancouver give our team a call or send us a message.