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'You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow / When you behold your shattered schemes ... The Boulevard of Broken Dreams'

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Purchase The Owner's Guide to B.C. Condominiums - 2010

How to save $100,000+ on building envelope failure in B.C.'s infamous, shark-infested condo market - what to know about savage strata governance in the midst of a decades-old leaky condo epidemic that's affected high-rise, low-rise and even many new single-family homes.

WELCOME to the wild, wild west!

The Owner's Guide to B.C. Condomiums - 2010 by Leo Biblitz, a 21-page report on strata governance in the midst of a decades-old leaky condo epidemic, is available for sale as a pdf at a price of $25 (twenty-five Canadian dollars). Download the report as soon as you complete the easy, secure PayPal payment process. It's that simple!

The report is intended for individual use only. Distribution/republication is prohibited; however, pricing for distribution of the report to a wider audience, such as a strata corporation, is also available from the Webmaster. Please send inquiries to By clicking on the PayPal Buy Now icon below, you are agreeing to these terms.

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To ask a question about strata governance in B.C., please see Submit a condo inquiry. All replies by e-mail typically within a day or two, depending on volume.

The Owner's Guide to B.C. Condominiums - 2010: Background

Unlike jurisdictions such as Ontario and Alberta, there is no legal requirement in B.C. to compel strata corporations to undertake regular professional inspections or to implement a professional building maintenance/repair plan although such a program is the only way to ensure problems are identified and resolved in a timely manner. Unfortunately, owners, strata councils and professional condo managers here are authorized to make decisions about real property affecting multiple owner-investors using only their eyes and what the Strata Property Act refers to as the duty to act in good faith for the good of the corporation as a whole. There is nothing in the Act to explain the truth to owners, which is that managing a strata corporation effectively - especially in the midst of a leaky condo epidemic - requires a combination of professional observation, assessment, record-keeping and problem-solving skills beyond the expertise of the average homeowner.

In the absence of proper maintenance/inspection programs:

- individual owners have very little information of substance about either the condominium unit or the shared common property;

- strata records typically reveal little or nothing about the strata corporation's construction or its true state of repair;

- there is no proper basis on which to develop or implement repairs/upgrades or even calculate strata fees and nothing beyond a duty to act in good faith to prevent a seller from concealing evidence of defects/damage. Not surprisingly, owners hoping to sell often prefer to keep such information off the record and, in most cases, I've found, they succeed.

The buyer's challenge, then, is to come up with a price based on gaps in the legislation, the strata records, the private pre-purchase building inspection, the seller's representations and a warranty scheme that's less about consumer protection than promoting an expectation that catastrophic housing failure is somehow an acceptable risk.

Table of Contents

I. Highlights of the decades-old leaky condo crisis still very much with us and why it's likely to remain so for some time.

II. A formula to help calculate a fair condo price. How to interpret various gaps in the legislation, strata records, pre-purchase private inspection and seller's representations.

III. Leaky condos: environmental hazards inside and out. More about toxic mold - safety precautions for workers; nothing for householders who often remain in the condo throughout invasive, lengthy building envelope repairs.

IV. Tenants and condos: oil and water. Summary of the rights and obligations of landlords, tenants and strata corporations, conflicts most likely to arise and the tortured procedures required to resolve them when they do.

V. 'Board lords' and condo bullies. How to apply the 29 Strata Property Act instruction guides to a typical condo dispute without enriching the legion of leaky condo feeder industries.

VI. When and how to find a good condo lawyer. How to search condo judgments at the B.C. Courts Web site for a list of potential advisers and how to search that list at the Law Society of B.C.'s helpful Lawyer Look-up link. Before signing a retainer agreement, a few questions about a lawyer's/law firm's interest in the transaction under advisement - beyond providing legal advice, that is. Lawyer-developer-realtor may be one and the same here in the wild west!

VII. An expensive, fruitless encounter with the B.C. Condominium Homeowners' Association (CHOA).

VIII. B.C.'s new public-private partnership with the British Columbia Arbitration and Mediation Institute (BCAMI), a dubious new enterprise offering condo owner subscribers high-priced services best suited, in my view, to labor disputes and leaky condo litigation typically involving multiple defendants.

IX. Planning authorities acting against environmental warnings and risk assessments. More about flood, mud and fire hazards and how to search public records to determine whether your strata corporation may be at risk.

OakAt7th You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow / When you behold your shattered schemes ... The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Vancouver's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, legacy of a decades-long, province-wide 'leaky condo' epidemic.

Photos of various reconstruction rehabilitation renovation sites along W. 7th Avenue at Oak Street March 29/06 reveal more than the ubiquitous low-rise, wood-frame leaky condo failures that have become the rule not the exception in B.C. If you turn your gaze across the sparkling blue Burrard Inlet, you'll see the familiar green net tarps topped with protective white capping over at least two highrises - 431 Pacific and Parkview Towers - 289 Drake St.

Update Dec. 31/09:

A brisk walk along W. 7th Avenue between Oak and Cambie on New Year's Eve revealed the familiar whine of a buzz saw emanating from dark interiors covered in scaffolding and the tell-tale blue and green net tarpaulins indicating 'leaky condo syndrome.' Every second or third complex appeared to have succumbed - not all for the first time, either, according to several residents and business owners.

Terms of Use

The report is intended for individual use only. Distribution/republication is prohibited; however, fees for the distribution of the report to a wider audience, such as a strata corporation, are available from the Webmaster. Please send inquiries to

The report is not offered as investment or legal advice. Rather, it should be viewed strictly as original research and opinion intended for individual condo investors, resident owners, tenants and strata managers, who ultimately make their own investment and legal decisions.

What's my expertise?

LLB from UBC, more than seven years moderating, former career as a print journalist and a former leaky condo owner. I'm not a member of the B.C. bar and make no secret of my view that legal advice is the preferred approach to condo inquiries. However, in my view, B.C. lawyers fail to meet the public need for:

(a) strata governance advice

(b) by an informed, disinterested party

(c) at a reasonable rate.

In an effort to fill that gap, I offer quality, fully transparent research as well as problem-solving strategies based on that research.

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