Alleyne Team 

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Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"


South Surrey Townhomes DogI'm dating myself, but dogs roamed city streets quite freely when I was a kid.  I don't mean there were a lot of strays, just that you didn't have to leash the dogs. I'd zoom around on my bike, picking up speed so I could put my feet on the handlebars and safely coast past the meaner dogs. To make matters worse, there was no requirement to pick up dog poop. Neighbours' dogs would come over and leave stinky gifts on our front grass. 

Fortunately, things have changed significantly and whether you have a cat, dog, ferret or turtle, there are strata rules and city bylaws to abide by. On the flip side, these strata pet restrictions can limit your Surrey and South Surrey real estate options.

The first thing to remember that the Strata Property act covers all stratas.  You can find the Strata Property Act online. It doesn't matter if you are in an apartment, townhome or condo, they are all guided by the same Act.   

Every strata property has bylaws that set out the rules around pets.  It's important to understand that if you are a pet owner and looking to buy a condo or townhouse that your strata rules supersedes the bylaws of Surrey, White Rock and Langley. 

Do Strata Properties Allow Pets?

Sometimes is the quick answer, but you need to be careful.  There are some common themes that I often see such as:

   - No pets
   - Only dogs under 40 pounds
 - 14" height limit at shoulder
   - No more than 2 pets per unit
   - No reptiles
   - Cats only allowed

Enforcement is another issue. I often see cat litter boxes in stratas with a "no pets" restriction. I also have seen 80 pound labrador retriever in a condos that had pet weight restrictions. I wouldn't recommend to my clients that that get offside of the pet rules because lax enforcement can change at any time. 

Be honest with your realtor about your current pets and any future plans to expand your family to include a pet. Your realtor will wade through the bylaws for you and narrow your Surrey or South Surrey real estate search to include your pet parameters.


I will assume that it's unlikely that there's a significant problem with meowing cats, so let's focus on barking. Once you have found a strata that accepts pets, remember that residents of stratas are entitled to "quiet enjoyment" of their homes. That means that they have a right to complain if your beloved Fido is exercising his lungs. My mother-in-laws neighbour recently had to give away their dog due to complaints.

In most stratas, neighbours live in harmony and enjoy each others pets. As a bonus they often befriend other pet owners and even dog or cat sit for each other.

The City of Surrey has a vast source of information about your responsibility as a dog owner at Surrey's Dog Owners Responsibility webpage.  If you live in White Rock or take your dog there for walks I recommend that you visit White Rock's Animal Control webpage.  




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Jake Alleyne mountaintopMy son, Jake Alleyne, and his best friend, Liam Harrap, are today completing their 5,500 kilometre hike along the Continental Divide from Jasper, Alberta to Mexico.  A couple of days ago they "swan songed" the epic journey by climbing their 100th mountain peak then descending for their final push through the Gila National Forest to Mexico.

My wife, Janet, and I followed this eight month adventure through GPS pings and a phone call from time to time.  We were also fortunate enough to meet them a couple of times along this epic trail, including at Yellowstone National Park.    

This morning their story was front page in the Vancouver Sun, "Former UBC Students Nearly Finished Eight Month Hike from Jasper to Mexico". We are so proud of them, and so excited to see them soon.

Mike Alleyne
Homelife Benchmark Realty, Surrey

Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"


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We are coming up on three of the highest house fire risk days of the year --- Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's.   Here are some fire safety tips to keep your home and family safe.

The holiday season is often very busy with decorating, craft fairs, corporate events, shopping and more occupying our thoughts.  With all that on our minds, distracted cooking is the number one cause of household fires during the holiday season.  Generally, it's food left unattended on the stove that's the culprit. If you are momentarily distracted from the stove, do something to remind yourself to come back -- perhaps set the timer for 2-3 minutes.   Another idea is to take a spatula or other kitchen item with you.   Don't put the spatula down until you have returned your attention to your cooking. 
Santa putting out fire in south Surrey homeNewly constructed Surrey and White Rock homes no longer have wood burning fireplaces, but they are still around in older homes. We live in an old timer Surrey home with two wood burning fireplaces that we enjoy.  If you have a wood burning fireplace as well, I recommend having a chimney inspection before you start your cozy fire season.  Soot can turn to creosote over time and that's dangerous. Also, Santa likes his whites to stay white, so soot puts you on Santa's naughty list.  I want to be on the nice list because sometimes my jolly friend brings me Scotch.  
Also, do not use any liquid fire starter and burn wood only.  Have a good fireplace screen.   When your fire is done remove the ashes and embers in a metal bucket and store it outside, away from the home and flammable materials. After 24 hours it should have completely cooled, so ensure the metal garbage can is not warm.  You can  use the ashes to spread over your lawn.and/or garden.  Burned wood doesn’t contain nitrogen, but it does provide phosphorous, potassium, calcium, boron and other elements that growing plants need. It’s also very alkaline and useful for raising the pH in gardens.
December has four times more fires than any other month of the year.   Ahhh ... but candles really create a wonderful ambience for the holiday season.  Some basic safety precautions while using candles will minimize the risk significantly
- ensure candles are away from the path of children
- keep flames at least 35 centimetres away from anything flammable 
- ensure all candles are on a flat, non-flammable surface
- use hurricane glass around the flame
- never leave candles unattended and do a walkabout before bedtime to ensure all candles have been blown out
If these suggestions put a damper on a higher risk candle location you previously had in mind, flameless candles are an alternative.  
Christmas Trees
I'm actually feeling like the Grinch right now but I have to ask a question.  Do you know how long it takes a dry Christmas tree that ignites to engulf the tree and the room it's in into flames?  I just asked my wife what she thought ... her answer was 2-3 minutes.  That's a good guess but no, the answer is 30 seconds.
If you are using an artificial tree then the risk is very low.  I recommend that before you buy your tree that you ensure the tree is flame retardant.  Even still, keep your artificial tree away from the fireplace and any other heat sources.  
Fresh Christmas trees and the smell of fresh pine wafting through your home are a real treat during the holiday season.  If you chose a fresh tree, I have some safety tips:
- keep the base in water and top up the water every day
- keep the tree away the heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, radiators, heating vents 
- do not keep the tree more than three weeks
Enjoy your tree and remember that if you keep it well watered, it is very difficult to ignite.  Take the tree down as soon as you can after the holidays and dispose of it.  For Surrey homes, the city will pick the old trees up if put it out with your yard waste.  Alternatively, you can take the tree to Surrey Transfer Station 9770-192 Street, Surrey, BC.   
My wife is a huge Christmas light fan.  Every year we drive by Surrey and White Rock homes with the best displays of holiday lights.  If you have a beautiful display of lights, we are the appreciative drive by looky loo's.
But, once again, some tips for safety.  Do not put more than three strings of lights together.   Also check to ensure the wires are not cracked or frayed.  If you are using extension cords, ensure they are in good condition.   Replace any damaged sockets.   
If you are hanging lights outside, the same cautions apply as above, but also do not use nails and/or staples to hang your lights as they can damage the cables.  We recommend using plastic clips, as they will protect the cables and your home.   Also take your lights down after the season, because rodents (particularly squirrels in the case of Surrey and White Rock homes) and weather will damage the cables.  
Also, as an added precaution check your outdoor receptacle to ensure the ground fault indicators have not tripped.  If they are tripping frequently this may be a sign that your lights need replacing. 
Enjoy your food, libations, fireplace, lights and candles and be safe this holiday season.  

Mike Alleyne
Homelife Benchmark Realty, Surrey

Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"


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Yes, you read right, pretty much 4 out of 5 home inspectors in BC challenge the credibility of their own licensing.  That’s a worrisome and bad statistic, but with a sliver of a silver lining.  It’s bad because, if the licensing is so lax, there was a very low bar for home inspectors that are currently holding licenses.  It’s good because licensed home inspectors are challenging their own profession standards and change is coming.  So let’s go through the recent history of home inspector licensing and what may change.

Are you old enough to remember the leaky condos fiasco?  The home inspection industry has a sketchy past in BC.   Although less common now, you still see tarps hanging over portions of condos and townhomes in Surrey, Langley, and White Rock.  It’s a hangover from a construction disaster of days gone with the epicenter in Vancouver.  Didn’t the construction industry have a proper and official building or home inspection checklist? 

As a result of many past horror stories, in 2009, BC became the first province in Canada to require home inspectors to get licensed.  Can you believe it?  That dumbfounds me. What about home buyers in the rest of Canada?  Jeez. 

Well, better atrociously late than never.  Effective in 2009, a home inspection in BC had to be done by a licensed inspector. The recent history of home inspection qualifications is that effective March 30, 2011 individuals deeming themselves “Home Inspectors” needed to be licensed by Consumer Protection BC who, in turn, recognized four associations


Phew!  Right?   Are you getting that warm fuzzy feeling?  Well don’t. The answer is to remain on your toes for unqualified home inspectors.  In March 2013, Craig Hostland, President of Canadian Association of Home &  Property Inspectors (CAHPI-BC) released a rather scathing press release challenging the licensing and making the bold statement “it's just like before licensing - the wild wild west - except now inspectors are licensed to pull the wool over your eyes.   Given his inside knowledge of the industry and passion to protect the consumer, I encourage you to read his article.

I think Mr. Hostland ruffled a few feathers.  This became an important issue to the provincial government and BC Premier Christy Clark made it part of her platform for re-election.  She made a commitment to uniform standards in BC for the home inspection industry.  On June 10, 2014, she wrote a letter to Rich Coleman, Deputy Premier, and also the Minister Responsible for Housing, mandating uniform licensing of home inspectors.  If you don’t want to read the whole letter that I have linked, just skip down to point number 10.  

I want to end on a positive note.   Despite the problems of the past and present, and the licensing question mark, the standards are going to tighten.   In the meantime, there are good home inspectors out there.  That’s why the inspectors are speaking up and challenging the lax licensing standards.  They want to protect the home buying consumer and raise the standards of their industry.   So, do your homework, choose carefully, ask questions, and ensure whoever you hire has the required licensing and diligently follows a lengthy and detailed home inspection checklist.

Mike Alleyne
Homelife Benchmark Realty, Surrey

Friends to Lead, Friends in "Deed"



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