I believe I’ve noted several times throughout my blog that most owners prefer silence until their specific wallet is wrenched open. It is amazing how vocal an individual can become in those circumstances.
My swamp dwellers don’t seem to care about the common property or their exclusive use common property. For example,decks and balconies are a fun common expense that defy logic with owners. When large repairs are required owners collectively thwart the process or remain mute because no one wants to spend money on preventative or remedial maintenance. If individual owners do want repairs they will stay silent to avoid being perceived as spendaholics and ostracized by the cheap contingent. And everyone will shut up if they get to garden because then they can pretend they own their own greenspace.
In my swamp everyone wants to be a gardener but no one cares about the building envelope – they leave that one to the incompetents on council because, afterall, “We get to pretend we own gardening space.” Until something goes wrong with the building envelope. Suddenly it’s not okay for council to expect an individual owner to look after “common property” aka greenspace.
Things become muddy when individual owners require a specific repair to their exclusive use common property. Phone calls are made to other owners for clarification, phone calls and emails are fired off to property management and then what do you know – nothing happens. Frustration builds because of course a specific issue for a specific owner is far more important than the collective needs of the corporation – except of course for gardening.
Personally, I get a kick out of individual owners bemoaning Council’s lack of activity. Why? Because it is these very owners who shut up when it counts who train Council and property management to believe they are accountable to no one – especially individual owners. If council owners get away with misinterpreting bylaws concerning common property when it involves gardening then the same rules apply for everything else including the building envelope. This is how incompetence becomes omnipotence.
My swamp is full of professionals. I’m getting guilty pleasure hearing the concern become anxiety and then transform into full blown active anger when an individual is not getting their individual needs met( deck issues, building envelope). I’d love the opportunity to watch these people within their work environment – they are most likely problematic there too – at the very least passive-aggressive! A quick fix mentality ensures process gets shelved and “professionals” determine “sucking up” is the best way to get what they need. Attempts to work through strata process and legislation are squashed in favour of urgency and perception.
My Council sits on its throne of manipulation and control and waits for the “suck ups”. Once an owner is caught grovelling before the throne, there’s no turning back because in business, nothing is given without its accompanying obligation. It’s so feudal!
So another owner’s silence is bought and paid for and once more owners like me are forced to retreat, gather strength and strategize with remaining independent thinkers or,alone, as the case is now. “Suck up” becomes part of the Council cheer contingent and loses integrity but that’s okay because their specific issue was resolved or at least under consideration to be resolved( more likely the case – you know “let’s not and say we did”).
Strata Councils that bully as a tactic are legion in British Columbia. My gang are the norm. There’s a saying I’m familiar with but I’ll paraphrase to the best of my recollection: All evil needs to flourish is for one good man to do nothing when confronted with it.
Many readers have shared their anguish at being bullied by control freaks in their stratas. Don’t despair but you must prepare yourself with tools at your disposal. The Strata Property Act is applicable legislation and will protect you. Learn it. Your corporation bylaws control the Council not the other way around. Understand that. And you strata owner, you have the inalienable right to vote your conscience and be a voice for change.That’s empowerment – wear it and share it.
Eventually ethics, principle and integrity win. There is strength in numbers. You are not alone. Have courage and confront unprofessional third parties and inept Councils. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because it’s out there. You’ll sleep better at night and you won’t be anybody’s “suck up”.