Most people are apathetic about politics. Strata corporations are for the most part very political. Subsequently, it is not unrealistic to assume most strata owners are apathetic.
Perhaps the best way to determine the degree of apathy in any corporation would be to consider the attendance of owners at their annual general meetings. Of course, there are many reasons why an owner would be unable to attend a meeting in person but a carefully considered proxy is just as good as being present in person.
Unfortunately, collecting proxies becomes problematic when apathy is the undercurrent in a corporation. Generally, if owners do not read minutes of council meetings or participate in information meetings, they are uninformed members and can be exploited for opportunity. As a result, votes can be accumulated and decisions made that are not true indicators of the corporation’s status rather they are manipulated results of a controlling minority.
Any corporation contends with divisive, controlling personalities and contentious issues. In a strata corporation both are exacerbated by well-meaning individual owners who earnestly believe it is better to have a hands off approach so they can be liked by everyone. The obvious carelessness of such a position only widens the chasm and perpetuates a hostile environment which is exactly what well-meaning, earnest owners do not want.
Furthermore, as long as these particular owners are not negatively impacted by a Council decision, they will maintain their stoic silence on important issues while carting along potato salad and beverages to community socials. When these individual owners are negatively affected by the behavior of a neighbour or Council decision, they will knock on the doors of vocal owners and hide behind another voice. After a time vocal owners feel used and grow silent themselves. After a time, the “For Sale” signs start to go up.
When a buyer signs the purchase agreement for a strata title he becomes a part owner in a community requiring voice and action. Failure to do so ensures decisions are made by other owners who may not necessarily share the same ideas for management of the property and this can ultimately affect an individual owner right where it hurts the most – equity and bank statements. An unchecked governing body can abuse its position and contribute to problems between neighbours as well as mismanagement of corporation funds and misinterpretation or all out contravention of bylaws and legislation. Again it is only when an individual is affected directly that an action will be taken.
Attend your AGM and if you are unable to do so, give your proxy to someone who puts YOUR best interests first and will be YOUR voice when decisions about YOUR money must be made. Even better, get involved so the Council is evolving with rested and/ or different owners every year. This way, one group doesn’t have unchecked, control and more owners will be willing to give Council a try without fear of being disliked for doing so.
Owner apathy is insidious. It winds through communities of well meaning people and feeds on insecurities until, like it or not, one dissenting opinion will not be tolerated. Well managed stratas have collaborative owners and transparent government. Apathetic stratas are neither collaborative nor transparent.
In the end, stratas and politics come down to the same thing – you can’t complain about the consequences of a decision if you don’t participate in the decision process.