I do all of my banking online. It is actually inconvenient to go into a bank. Banking is quicker, more flexible and private online. If something negative happens with the server – that’s inconvenient but so are the limitations of “banker’s hours” and “snail mail” and, of course, a postal strike.
For info on the go and access to what’s important to me when I need it, I LOVE the internet.I can go on it whenever I want. I can open numerous windows and cross reference information if I choose and I can compare information from various sources. It’s so darn interactive but so darn private too.
Last week,The Vancouver Sun Stratified’s Suzanne Morphet took on strata documents as the column focus and the very reasonable idea that strata documents would be more accessible and expeditious online. The most important reason, according to the column of course, would be to provide relief to long suffering property management. Those documents are heavy burdens to be responsible for in all the busyness of collecting money for strata corporations. Wow, I’m exhausted just thinking of the outlay of effort…NOT!
The column was kind to the property managers out there because it suggested the agents are undermined in their efforts to provide good service to strata corporations by the sheer volume of paper work. Specifically, Suzanne’s source suggested a huge amount of time was spent collecting and delivering strata documents to realtors.
It’s my experience the collecting and management of strata documents is very low on the priority lists of some property managers with or without a platform like StrataDocs.This is not to say that some other property managers are methodical, organized and collaborate with realtors. I actually know some of those as well but they represent less than 20% of the whole.Apparently Victoria is embracing online documentation and this should be applauded.
To clarify, the property managers I have dealt with should not be categorized with the agent Suzanne sourced in her column. My experience with agents and document sharing is similar, I imagine, to the feeling a fish might have trying to ride a bicycle…hopeless were it not so impossible.It has nothing to do with digital access to something like StrataDocs or an overworked photocopier. As they say, “attitude is everything” and it is attitude that allows for smooth transfers of strata documents.
When I was involved in the management of the swamp, the council was collaborative regarding transparent and open communication with the owners. Interesting to note here is that owners felt over-innundated with information.Can you believe it? Owners were actually disinterested in information about their asset. One of them actually stated,”We get so many memos and I just don’t have time to read them.” Another whined, “The paper is killing trees.” But my all time favourite was, “Save the paper, I don’t give a damn.”. Always, these same owners would come to the Annual General Meeting stomping their feet and pounding the table because of some financial cost,”..I wasn’t informed about….”.
Honestly,a huge amount of MY time was wasted informing owners who just couldn’t be bothered to read the memos and communications from the strata council. I should also include here that the strata council minutes were thorough and detailed and owners didn’t read those because,”I’m too busy and I don’t understand”.The best line ever came from a strata owner I affectionately call, The Wizard. The all-knowing Wiz discouraged a bylaw about insurance because it was so….”legalistic”. He thought the bylaw should read…forgive me Nike…“Just do it”. Hurry Toto – pull back the curtain!
Considering the amount of time realtors are forced to wait for property managers to climb out of their paper duress, I doubt realtors have time to read the stuff before contract deadlines.Buyers have limited timeframes to read strata documents and absorb them to begin with and because realtors are swimming in a shark tank for clients, their time is at a premium.Of course, there are lazy shill realtors too don’t forget! Apathy, apathy everywhere.
It is very obvious buyers generally give the documents a cursory look —visit the Supreme Court website and ponder the number of cases or just try to get a strata lawyer in a timely fashion and that’s just for an appointment. Ah the price of “don’t ask -who cares” Buyers are not fully aware or to be fair, some buyers/owners are just litigous and find responsibility laborious.
So now we come to the reality of property managers and information sharing based on my understanding. These days a council member is required to spoon feed the property management content so agents can plaster paper with their brand and contact information and oh yeah, their signature so they can make themselves feel important–like they earn the pay. Why this is so important I actually have no idea because when you attempt to call, you get a voice-mail;when you leave an email you get an auto-reply;if you should send a fax, you take the risk it will be lost during transport over the airwaves. Oh, and emergency numbers? Hold on I’m laughing so hard I need a moment. Actually, I need two moments and an espresso.
In my moments as a council member, I generally had to draft the letters and forward them to the property management so owners would believe the property management had written them. I should emphasize here that property management had to have their butts kicked to put council content on their logo paper( I guess because they were stroking the photocopier for a realtor)in a timely manner and, sometimes, agents were even surprised by the content: “I didn’t know that was a bylaw. You learn something everyday.” Kudos for cashing the corporation’s cheque Mr. Property Manager.
So now imagine when you have an uninformed, ignorant council directing an equally uninformed, ignorant property manager. There’s a recipe for …well, strata cluster@#ck.It has nothing to do with over-burdened managers paper pushing at the hands of unrelenting realtors. It is about power and control. Swamplife!
So there is a case for online documentation because then maybe owners would be more willing to read information about their asset.If owner contributions-good, bad, indifferent-were online, in real time – the council and the property management would be accountable to the corporation and not their own sense of importance. I mean if everyone is on the same page, that’s a start right? Sure there will be disagreements but the basic facts are right there out in the open.Omnipotence would be a thing of the past. Dialogue would be the priority. What a novel concept. Almost feels like democracy.
Strata Council meetings could be part of an online meeting so owners could attend from the comfort of their own homes or home offices. Minutes could be posted online and owners could create immediate digital files. Correspondence could be received and responded to because council and management would know when it was sent and so would other owners. Privacy would be much easier to protect because owners would be part of the initial online set-up. Everyone could witness the property manager and council in action or inaction. Trust me, there’s a reason property management companies and councils aren’t jumping on the interactive online approach.
Online storage and access would also benefit the sense of community because perception would not be under the council’s control. Owners would be able to participate directly with one another as well. I can hear the “too much information” crowd wheezing their disapproval but the way things are now,other owners in my swamp know me through council character assassination. They have no concept of the efforts I’ve made on their behalf – I’m just the scapegoat for the Greenthumb and her befuddled fans and supporters.
Property managers do not struggle to get this work done. I take huge exception to Suzanne’s column suggesting that property manager’s have more “mundane”, ‘time wasting’ and “repetitive” efforts due to document requests.
Online documentation is about transparent asset management on the part of council and property agents together with interactive owner access and participation in that asset management. It’s not about making the property management’s job easier because it is already. It’s about making strata management easier, accessible and more accountable to and for the people who need it to be….strata owners.