I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop the other day with my laptop humming and my fingers flying. More often than not someone I know either very well or just through the coffee connection will sit down and talk with me about what I’m doing. I’m always pleased to share information but I’m finding lately that some people have become quite defensive about strata issues and my opinions about all things strata. I find this quite interesting in a society that prides itself on the rights of individuals to speak their minds.
Everyday people read the newspapers and shake their heads over abuses of power and financial scams. I presume the quiet indignation I read on their faces is simply an acceptance of these things as inconvenient truths. Yuck, apathy!
Particularly in British Columbia, owning a home is a huge investment. Strata title properties attract a wide spectrum of owners: first timers, lifestylers and empty-nesters, to name a few. That is a wide variety of people and a wide variety of needs and interests to consider. The government provided legislation so this variety of owners could govern and maintain their properties in a fair and reasonable manner. Detached home owners are expected to respect municipal laws and maintain their homes but if failure to do so costs them money then it is their issue alone to resolve. In a strata, the property belongs to each owner and so the Strata Property Act and corporation bylaws ensure the property maintenance is the first priority of every owner at all times. Here comes the disconnect.
With such a variety of individuals expected to contribute funds to the operating budget of the property there is a virtual limitless grey area of interpretation of the Strata Property Act and corporate bylaws. A person would think there would be a body to ensure accountability and transparency for strata owners and strict compliance with legislation in order to protect the common assets of all owners. Not so. At least elected government politicians see some public scrutiny through the campaign process. In a strata it is all about personal agendas buried under the “just a volunteer” whine.
When you trust your money to any third party, especially volunteer neighbours, it behooves you to be active in monitoring how your money is spent and to keep those entrusted with your money accountable to you. So,why do the vast majority of strata owners insist on believing their neighbours automatically are accountable or trustworthy simply because they are so willing to bear the burden of governance? Opportunists thrive in strata corporations because owners don’t care until they have too. Generally, special assessments and one owner getting privilege over another cause some, not all, owners to get ticked off and say something. Usually it is too late by then.
I write my blog to point fingers at the status quo. Just because the majority of people are manipulated into electing opportunists who always end up deceiving them, doesn’t mean I should sit quietly by and do nothing.
My particular strata represents everything that is wrong with letting fellow “volunteers” have control over the governance and maintenance of my asset. I write my blog so perhaps other strata owners will feel a sense of camaradarie and will be encouraged to step forward and effect change. The government believes it has a handle on strata legislation – it does not- but only a handful of us seem to know it.
I figure the more I share my opinions -based upon my personal experience -about what is not right with strata corporations, more people will be willing to share their opinions. Perhaps then the government will have to admit their experiment has been a failure and needs some fine tuning and supervision.
The last people I trust to manage my asset are neighbours I know to be dishonest. If I’m ignored and slandered and my rights count for nothing with my neighbours then I will use the blog to make my point with other strata owners. As with any free society if you don’t like my opinion you don’t have to read it.
Finally for the friends and acquaintances who, despite the content of my blogs, continue to ask why I persist with it well, because I have been cautioned, indirectly, against using this platform to share my opinions about strata life. I must be doing something right! That’s why!