Strata 101: Everything You Need to Know

Strata properties are pretty standard here in Victoria, so chances are you live in one or are considering buying into one. But do you know the what, how, and whys of being part of a strata? We’re going to answer some commonly asked questions we get about strata.

What Exactly Is Strata Housing?

Most people only think of condominiums when they hear the words strata housing. But townhouses, duplexes, and even communities of single-family homes can all be strata housing, too.

When you buy a home that's part of strata housing, you become a member of the strata. You agree to pay the costs and follow the rules set out in your agreement.

What Are Strata Fees & What Do They Cover?

Your monthly strata fee goes towards the maintenance of all the common areas on the property. This includes property manager fees, garbage collection and other municipal fees, cleaning and upkeep of the property, and all additional monthly maintenance costs for running the property. The strata calculates this fee by adding up the monthly expenses and dividing it by the number or size of the units.

The strata council must maintain two separate accounts for the monthly amounts to be deposited into. The operating fund is what covers the regular, routine maintenance — even if it is not monthly — such as having a gardener come in a few times a year. The contingency reserve fund is kept to cover maintenance that only occurs occasionally. For instance, if the building needs a new roof, new windows, driveway paving, painting, etc.

Strata fees vary depending on the size of your unit, location of your property, and how many extra amenities your strata property includes. 

Why Is Strata Housing a Good Idea?

When you live in strata housing, you get to own a piece of property without having to worry about doing a lot of maintenance on your home’s exterior and yard.

And often, strata properties will include additional amenities such as pools, tennis courts, outdoor spaces, activity rooms, and fitness centres for all tenants to enjoy. This saves you the trouble of building your own or paying hefty fees to use other facilities.

What Are the Drawbacks of a Strata?

When you enter into a strata agreement, you must follow the rules. This may mean you can't choose the colour of the exterior of your home, put up any decorations, or do anything without permission from the strata council.

Some strata councils also dictate how many people can live in your home, the ages allowed, if animals are permitted, and other limitations such as smoking and forbidding rentals.

You’ll also need to pay monthly fees and potentially be prepared to come up with more money if something comes up which the contingency fund can’t cover.

What Else Should I Know About Strata Properties?

Before you buy a home in a strata property, get a copy of the rules and regulations and read it very carefully.

Find out what your monthly strata fees will be as well as what those fees cover. Assess your finances to see if it fits in with your budget and whether the savings you might get on home maintenance as well as other amenity fees.

You’ll also want to check into any warranties that come with the building(s) within the strata and when all major maintenance was done last. 

If you still have questions about strata your qualified MLS REALTOR® will be able to help you. At the Faber Group, we're sometimes asked to help buyers assess if buying a home in a strata is worth it for them. Contact us today for more information.