Strata living could use a recharge. There is so much misunderstanding around strata life. People buy into the strata concept believing one thing and then while living in strata develop a whole new mindset. Perhaps loosey-goosey thought processes are the result of complacency and apathy on the part of strata owners or those thought processes are a hodge-podge of “don’t know, don’t care, don’t want to know”.
I have come to accept most strata owners are inconsistent with the “don’t know” portion because, when it comes to their money,owners “know” quite a bit. Most importantly,strata owners just “know” they don’t like the idea of saving and sharing for the community if they are in it for the short-term but they accept monthly strata fees for the here and now.
Short term thinking encourages, “don’t care” positions which, ironically, encourages owners to part with huge amounts of money to third-party contractors namely, property management,to protect the daily moment to moment maintenance of the strata. Somehow property management resonates with lazy people living in the moment or it becomes lazy people allowing a resourceful owner to bear the collective burden while laziness continues to burrow in the sandbox.
When a resourceful owner takes on the responsibility of managing the strata, suddenly, “I don’t want to know” becomes an excuse for statements like,”It’s been working great so far. Owners aren’t complaining” (as if silent strata owners are a good thing in the long-term).
When one person steps up to the plate to embrace the self-management ideal there are flowers and good feelings at acceptance but it’s really a send off to strata Siberia with nothing but silence and blissful ignorance—no cookies or tea. A managing strata owner will seem to be in a far off place,stoking the fires of maintenance and governance from a distance. There are no problems, no issues and once a year the opportunity for all owners to gather and say, “Atta boy or girl. Keep on doing what you are doing because whatever you are doing is working and I have a busy, busy life to get back to.”
Except when a genuine intention masks a serious lack of accountability to and understanding of the Strata Property Act and strata corporation bylaws. Strata owners are by nature fickle and transient. Generally five years is an average residence within a strata. Owners buy and sell and move a different strata or new lifestyle. It doesn’t really matter but what does matter is the perpetual change that a corporation undergoes. A decision to self-manage must be made carefully and thoughtfully and all owners must take part in it so there is no Siberia of one.
Strata Siberia happens when the strata management is neither evolving with the legislation nor duplicative. It is difficult to encroach upon a strata Siberia because it’s so big and desolate and unwelcoming. It is too big for an owner to raise questions or concerns; it’s too desolate to attempt to penetrate; and worse it’s unwelcoming because, well, it has taken a life of its own and it is always best to let sleeping harsh environments lie, especially if you are neighbours.
To avoid the unwelcome and impenetrable environment of a rogue self-managed strata it is best to remember a few things:
1)Processes for maintenance and governance must be understood and duplicative so every owner can take part
2)Every action must comply with the Strata Property Act and corporation bylaws so management is equitable and fair to all owners
3)Everything must be transparent and properly communicated to build community and support
4)Owners must be accountable to one another all the time
Surely it is a simple truth that when you trust one of your own as guardian of the corporation monies and master communicator for the day-to-day business of your asset, you will care enough to expect accountability from each other before problems become difficult and personal. Self management should be a no-brainer for strata life because property management is just money for nothing that a caring, thoughtful community of owners could save for more important expenses and by obligation and respect, do for itself. Interestingly enough,if you listen carefully, you will hear the echoes of “I don’t know”; “I don’t care”;and “I don’t want to know” by a Siberian of one or paid property management. Be wary.