What stratas need to know about warranties

Dear Condo Smarts: Our strata complex was built in September 2010. At the time, we were told that we had a warranty of two, five and 10 years.

It covered two years for operational components, five years for the building envelope and 10 years for the structure of the building.

We were told by the warranty provider and the developer that the developer was responsible for all those items covered under the first two years.

We have been contacting the developer every month to address a number of deficiencies in addition to two items that are really warranty claims.

The developer is ignoring us and we are concerned that the warranty will run out before we get these claims addressed.

Is there some way of forcing this issue?

Glen P., Aldergrove

Dear Glen: Many strata corporations ignore their warranties on new developments, products or renovations until a claim arises.

Contacting the developer and the warranty provider regularly when you have a claim is important to protect the strata interests.

The warranty provider for your project is the insurance company that has underwritten the warranty contract with your strata corporation.

The developer provides assurances to the warranty provider that the developer will undertake certain obligations on behalf of the warranty provider.

The common-area warranty has very specific terms and conditions of the contract which a strata corporation needs to understand.

You have an obligation to maintain and inspect the warrantied product or construction as prescribed by the operations manual provided to your strata corporation.

Contract a qualified professional to perform routine inspections of the building components before each of the expiry dates of the warranty.

Any defects that result in warranty claims need to be filed with the warranty provider prior to those expiry dates, and in the proper form.

The warranty contract will identify how you contact the warranty provider and the location for notice.

Always communicate with the parties in writing, and even if you have a conversation with the developer or warranty provider, immediately follow up with a letter confirming your understanding of the conversation.

Your warranty is a valuable asset for your strata corporation and has a value of $100,000 per unit to a maximum of $2.5 million per building. Keeping good maintenance and inspection records is critical to maintain the value of your warranty.

It is also important for all strata corporations to closely review their warranty documents so they are aware of the actual dates.

The warranty starts when the first strata lot is sold or the first occupancy, whichever is first. Compare your warranty schedule to those occurrences.

If your strata corporation has no success in getting your warranty provider or developer to remediate the defect, then there is a provision for Mandatory Mediation under the Homeowner Protection Act.

Contact the Homeowner Protection Office, a division of B.C. Housing, at 1800407-7757 and request to speak to the registrar, or go to www.hpo.bc.ca. There are a number of helpful guides under “dispute resolution” to get you started.

Source: The Victoria Times Colonist

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