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Province boosts protection for condo owners

The province has announced new rules to protect condominium owners and buyers, effective Feb. 1, 2015.

Buyers will be protected by an extension of the ‘cooling-off’ period following a purchase to seven days from 48 hours. There will also be enhanced cancellation rights, allowing buyers to cancel a deal if any material changes are made to what was promised before they move in.

Developers will also be required to conduct a reserve-fund study before selling any units that are converted from apartments so buyers have a clear view of a building's condition.

Developers would also have to give buyers a projection of anticipated operating costs for the first year that owners pay common expenses and would require the developer to pay the difference if real costs exceed the estimate.

Unit owners would benefit from the new rules in several ways, the government said.

A condo corporation would be required to conduct a reserve-fund study within three years of the act coming into force and to update it every five years. The study would help the board determine the appropriate reserve-fund level and reduce unexpected special assessments for major repairs and replacements.

A condo bylaw could permit the board to fine unit owners who don’t comply with bylaws and rules. The regulation would set out maximum amounts and frequency. A unit owner could appeal the fine to the Residential Tenancies Branch.

Also under the new rules, condo corporations would not be able to prohibit unit owners from renting their suites.

Condo boards could adopt a pet-free status for their buildings, but existing unit owners with pets would be exempt from the ban. However, penalties or fines for problem pets would still apply.

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