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"Can you combine two strata lots into one bigger unit?"

"Can you combine two strata lots into one bigger unit?"

"I have one buyer who is interested in buying the unit next door to his. He intends to tear down the divider to make 2 strata lots into one bigger unit. I asked the management company and their answer is to apply to the strata corporation. However, my client will only purchase this unit if he may surely combine two into one. Would you please let me know if there is any other way I may make sure the above and get this deal done."

This is an interesting question and a very complicated process to do what is being asked. Essentially, if the strata complex is already built it is virtually impossible to change the strata plan to combine two units into one title. To do so will require 100% of the owners (unanimous consent) to agree to amend the strata plan. This is really impractical.

Instead, the owner can own two adjacent suites and apply to City Hall for a building permit to remove the wall between the units. In order to do this, City Hall will require the consent of the Strata Corporation (presumably from the Strata Council). So the starting point is to get the Council’s permission to remove some or all of the common wall between the units to combine their floorplan. The strata council will likely be concerned about structural issues (by removing a wall does it affect the structure of the rest of the suites), and they will be concerned about provision of utilities (water and drainage). They may also be concerned with the mess, inconvenience and disturbance to other owners. If those hurdles can be overcome, the strata will give City Hall consent to carry out the renovation. Presumably the combining would remove a kitchen and possibly other rooms to make the new floorplan with larger rooms. That would require an architect and structural engineer to act as consultants on the project. The planning should also provide the owner with the possibility to re-demise the one premise back into two lots for better resale value sometime in the future if they desire. 

In order to assure this current owner that he can do all that is asked, you will need a long subject to period to seek strata consent. This will be costly to the seller of that unit and likely a premium would be paid for that lengthy due diligence (expect at least two to three months to get City Hall approval after the strata has given the go ahead). 

By the way, this is a fairly easy process if you are purchasing two adjacent units from the developer before the project is completed – he can do the renovations as part of the initial building of the complex, and would likely have an easy time with City Hall. To do it after the fact is very difficult.

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