Swamps are an interesting landscape. They have so many nooks and crannies you can get all turned around really quick. There is so many things to look at you can succumb to sense overload. There is stuff above you, stuff around you and stuff below you.
What’s below you is dark and murky. You just don’t know what is underfoot. Is it deep? Is it shallow? Are wild things lurking? The low hanging foliage and twisted trees create shadows and eerie backdrops. Moss and pond scum are everywhere. Swamps can intrigue you and petrify you all in one instant.
In my swamp what lies beneath is a paradox of sorts. The truth is all there but the murky water and the mossy, scummy groundcover make it difficult to get to. My strata council likes it that way.
The thing about obscuring facts is that eventually the truth can’t be distinguished from fiction. What’s that you say? Obfuscation. Well, yes but in my swamp I call it the strata clusterf@#k.
There is so much that is hidden in my swamp but the strata conceals it by hiding it in plain sight.
All the swampers don’t like to ask or tell; swampers just like to well…exist.
Ogres ask questions.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was this: Create a paper trail and document everything. In the swamp, a thorough and well maintained paper trail has served me well. It has tripped up my council on more than one occasion. I especially like feeling smug when the council gets caught in a lie. It happens a lot but if you don’t document the council in mis-speak or embellishment or outright fabrication, you can’t prove it and that murky crap floating on the surface of the swamp gets thick and rank.
All the other swampers forget about the rancid odour and overgrowth when the council gathers and, like maggots on dead things, busy themselves planting colour and fresher looking foliage to camouflage the encroaching slop. Again, what a clusterf@#k!
If you get a shovel and dig however you get rid of the slop. It actually dissipates when it gets some light. And what do you find lying there? Well, the truth of course. (Cue angelic choir).
Most strata documents are legal documents. The strata plan, architectural drawings, legal advice and decisions, building envelope repairs, bylaws, bylaw amendments and minutes of all meetings are permanent fixtures in any strata corporation filing cabinet. Personal correspondence needs to weeded regularly especially when the subject owners no longer live there. Strict adherence to privacy laws is mandatory as well. Strata documents are a true snapshot of the health and wealth of a strata corporation.
Of course, a strata council that is covering up its crimes and misdemeanours is going to deny access to the documents and sometimes will even misplace or lose important documents. When you are shoveling for this stuff, sometimes you have to dig deep.
I keep every piece of paper from the strata council. They don’t keep everything I send them. I always reference my earlier letters to juggle council’s selective memory. I ask council to clarify the minutes and I still don’t warrant a response. When I keep at them they hire an attorney to tell me to lay off. They tell me that strata business is none of mine…..another example of clusterf@#k for you.
Prospective buyers are the unknown in the swamp because they throw the status quo into super clusterf@#k status.
Strata owners selling their piece of the swamp don’t keep or read strata documents. It allows them to plead ignorance and in a swamp ignorance is bliss. Prospective buyers are buying the surface swamp not its dirty little secrets so unless they are ogres, they don’t ask questions. This is perfect for the strata council because they instruct their property manager to give the buyer only what the buyer asks for. That’s pretty basic stuff.
Ogres do it differently although it does generate late night pitchfork mobs.
Ogres prepare all the documents the strata council has provided owners with even the vague, sparse ones. Then, ogres advise the real estate agent of all the possibilities and potentialites because the realtor will never take the time to read between the lines of the strata clusterf@#k. Ogres don’t like their places being sold in the dark because once they move they don’t prefer to look back, so, it is essential buyers know what kind of swamp they are getting into. Ogres anticipate property management boondoggles and stonewalls ( under the authority of the strata council of course…..yet another clusterf@#) and advise buyers ahead of property management involvement.
It would be nice to have a strata person who could travel through the swamp regions and study all the strata documents and consult with new buyers from a neutral place. This way buyers would appreciate all the pros and cons and make an educated decision about purchasing in a strata without the strata clusterf@#k or a realtor’s ambivalence. Perhaps an ogre or two will take on this important task.
Perhaps when that control is entirely up to a buyer in the purest sense, the wonderful world of strata will start to transform. Who knows maybe the swamp will bloom all on its own when swampers start to care about the business and governance of their asset.