Duplexes need strata insurance

I got this in my email, I thought I share it with you all.

By Tony Gioventu, The ProvinceJune 21, 2009

Dear Condo Smarts: We live in a duplex on the Sunshine Coast. Our neighbours had a small fire on their deck that caused about $8,000 damage to the building siding, the deck and patio doors.

They contacted their insurance company, and were told they are not covered for this damage and my insurance company doesn’t cover us. Neither of us realized we are in a functioning strata and did not retain an insurance policy for the buildings. My neighbour has agreed to pay for the cost, but we are asking that you write a column about duplexes and insurance to warn everyone to be aware of the type of building they are living in and buy insurance to fit.

— MB

Dear MB: There are thousands of duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in the province and it would surprise most owners to know that they are likely a strata. Most are a building-type strata, showing the building on the strata plan.

In a building-type strata, the exteriors are usually common property and the buildings and fixtures built by the owner-developer are part of common assets. The strata corporation, created by the registered strata plan, must have insurance on all perils specified in the act and regulations, and liability insurance for property damage and bodily injury.

Each owner is advised to maintain insurance for their condo unit that covers personal property, betterments not covered by the strata policy for the unit and personal liability.

Don’t assume your personal insurance covers your property. You need a separate policy in the name of your strata corporation. For example, “the owners, strata plan ABC1234.”

A duplex works the same as any other strata. You approve an annual budget, retain insurance, maintain common property, enforce bylaws and maintain records. The only exception to insurance is a bare-land strata, where the buildings are not shown on the strata plan and each owner insures his own building. If you don’t know if your building is a strata, review your purchase documents or have a title search done on your unit. It will be indicated on the title if it is part of a strata plan.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association.