Strata Dopes and Strata Smackdown

I haven’t had much to say about mixed strata use buildings. Take all the residential contention and conflict, add a retail outlet or office space and wham bam thank you, you’ve got constant battles going round and round.

There are a few realities that are hard to ignore of course.

The foremost reality: Let the buyer beware. Don’t be a strata dope. What do I mean?

If you are shopping for a living space that is in a great area, has a fabulous floor plan and might even be a possible investment opportunity, think very carefully about your neighbours. A great example would be a hair salon. No matter how wonderful the unit you are looking at is and no matter how many “must haves” it satisfies, none of that will matter when your lovely afternoon with friends is hijacked by the noxious odour of perm and colour chemicals wafting up the ventilation system. Your friends will think you have a sewage leak and most likely make an early exit. Noxious odours linger and, over time, can make you sick, give you headaches and just plain disrupt the peaceable, nuisance free enjoyment of your property. But if you bought it despite knowing the hair salon was directly below you then you kind of made your own bed. A good realtor and a considerate strata council would more than likely have advised you of this but it is easy to gloss over while you are in the dewy stages of signing an agreement.

Perhaps you are looking at a space that is in a central location and has a bar below the unit you covet. You would more than likely ask the realtor to get you access to the unit when the bar is at its most busy so you could hear the level of sound you would be subjected to. You would also make sure you understood the regular day business of the place if you wanted to enjoy a quiet Sunday reading the paper and relaxing. You would plan to have some sound going on within the unit as well, to hear how the sound impacts regular sound you create – either by television, conversation or background music.

You would be aware of hours of operation  for all commercial outlets and what requirements those same commercial outlets have within the strata corporation. You would need to know what your rights are should a commercial owner sell, and what, if any restrictions, there would be on any new purchaser. Before purchasing a unit in a mixed strata space building you need to think about every potentiality and you need to make sure your lawyer clarifies it thoroughly.

Most people prefer strata dope because they cannot be bothered to consider what goes on beyond the threshold of their own front doors until a direct breach occurs.

There is nothing so stubborn and bull-headed as a residential owner who buys a place over a commercial space and then tries to change the rules to suit his own needs. This happens a great deal. In some stratas, owners of commercial spaces are a sycophantic bunch of devious agenda harlots. Put the two groups in a room and it is interesting passive-aggressive entertainment.

Most bully residential strata owners are oblivious to machinations going on within their ranks because they believe, as owners, that they have power and control. Most commercial sycophant owners talk  well out of both sides of their mouth canvassing and socializing and staying under the radar of suspicion until they have succeeded in pouring concrete and allowed it to set.

Both sides play at sparring for their cause and that’s when the fun begins: Knee jerk reactions,process stalls and bad blood creeping across the divide.

My thoughts? If you bought above a drinking establishment you can’t call foul at a later date. Stupid is as stupid does and you can’t cure stupid. If you bought over a retail space selling a specific product for a specific time then you have a voice for any changes that take place that may affect you – if your bylaws are specific.

If you have your head in the sand and other owners exploit your passivity then you are in for a fight if you want to challenge a process begun without your full knowledge or awareness. It will cost you emotionally and financially if you are the only owner negatively affected by the exploitation. Likewise it will cost all the owners if they came to the table late in the game.

Cost of ignorance is huge. Know the bylaws of the corporation backwards, forwards and inside out. Hold a council accountable especially if commercial owners sit on it and especially if they don’t. It’s unwise to expect local government to interfere unless there is valid reason for its involvement – business licenses, liquor licenses etc. But be wary – it is not unheard of for local government to be charmed by the shtick of a merchant offering economy as foreplay for a quickie.

Posted in Cost of Ignorance

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