Strata corporations are all about something for nothing. I’m completely serious! Strata owners want to purchase the grand idea of a beautiful home but they rarely want to be accountable to their neighbours for the repair and maintenance of common areas. Even worse, strata owners either do not want to assist with governance or they want to run an autocracy. It’s all or nothing in strata corporations-black or white – never grey.
How many times do I write about the importance of the strata legislation? How many times do I suggest that strata owners all have a copy of Mike Mangan’s The Condo Manual? How many times do I suggest every owner take a term on the corporation council? It’s enough to make me dizzy all the going around and around and around.
Why do strata owners want to take the easy route – have sand pile, bury head?
I believe it is because there is always some good natured soul who wants to do a generous thing for the good of everyone while there is always some lazy, uninformed person who wants power but no effort.
Good natured souls always have an agenda though and it is important to be able to see the signs of an expensive manipulation. Oftentimes, people willing to take on the heavy task of administration are well-meaning but want to have some degree of control or money. When someone stands up and says, “Why, I’ll be happy to do this work for the strata,” everyone needs to be concerned;nothing is given without its disadvantage after all. Think about it……Eventually there will be dictates not offers; phone calls will not be answered quickly; priorities will change; campaigning will be done; allegiances will build; information will not be shared or transparent; rules will be reinterpreted, and owners will just fall into line. AGM’s become a snooze fest for lack of discussion – everyone is simply in favour. Whenever there is an absent voting card at an AGM, a strata corporation is already on a slippery slope.
Once a corporation jumps on that slippery slope,how’s about a proposal to do the work of the secretary/treasurer as a side business? Interesting eh? This means of course that collecting money, taking minutes, organizing files, arranging for contractors -in short – controlling the administration of corporation business is done outside the licensing requirements of the Real Estate Board and the council. How do you have an elected council with an executive that doesn’t have a secretary or a treasurer? How does that work for the liability of the council members to exercise reasonable care if they aren’t doing any of the work? How is this a duplicatable enterprise and how does it encourage all owners to volunteer? It doesn’t.
What strata corporation operates on less than three meetings a year? What strata council doesn’t know where the bulk of its records are secured? What about privacy? What happens if something- heaven forbid -happens to the good natured soul? Where is the work? What’s going on?
As much as I have opinions about property management, in simple terms, they are work horses for strata corporations but they are not meant to replace them. How many times have I written that property management takes direction from council? Property management never works alone within a strata corporation…NEVER.This must mean the council needs to be a team right? Just because you have an owner doing the work doesn’t mean the President and Vice-President have carte blanche to do absolutely nothing. And what if a secretary/treasurer business model is not renegotiated or offered up to some one else after a time? What if the majority of owners aren’t even aware their council is in contravention of bylaws that could have a negative outcome in a legal situation? Sounds like nepotism and is similar in meaning except for family appointments- how about “stratpotism”??
Well meaning but lazy owners who willingly allow one person to do all the work are not being good neighbours they are simply being daft and lack business sense.They are foolhardy to believe that the strata concept creates a culture of independence within a lot boundary. Strata owners are wise to look at their strata councils the same way they would look at any other business and govern themselves accordingly. There must be accountability and responsibility. Writing out a check and hoping for the best outcome is in itself not a grave error but there are no checks and balances when owners circumvent their own bylaws to shoulder less of a burden. Seriously, when a council only meets a couple of times a year with minimal expenses and no issues it is highly questionable to pay for services that anyone can commit to especially when it amounts to less than a weeks worth of work.It just takes one new owner with an interest in educating themselves about their strata corporation to open up a can of strata whupass. If your bylaws require an executive that includes a secretary and a treasurer as well as a president and vice-president then that is a MUST in terms of the law. Good intentions will not protect lazy strata owners from their responsibility if mistakes are made on their behalf.