In the swamp, perception is everything. The best way to distract attention away from scrutiny in one corner is to make a whole bunch of noise in another. Take this one step further and the whole process is refined enough to be spin buried under layers and layers of deliberate and cunning manipulation.
Spin begins, of course, to reach a market for the purpose of a gain. In real estate, a landowner will market a piece of property with the intent of selling to a developer. That developer will then prepare the land and market it to individuals. Eventually a neighbourhood springs up. Where a developer creates a strata plan, the stage is set for rules and regulations in order to govern and maintain the property.
Sometimes developers can be attached to their property enough to live within it and become part of the community. They move about with projected authority. Neighbours like to believe developers make good leaders. This of course is a misguided perception because a developer develops for gain;anything beyond development gain is icing on the cake.
Developers are clever. They are busy developing. If they choose to reside in a development of their own, it is wise to have a hands off approach to the whole “Good Neighbour Sam” current that twists and pulls within the community (any and all neighbourhoods are mini political arenas). Makes sense though to have a member of the family be front and centre within the neighbourhood so one can appear to be hands off.
So, unsold strata units within a corporation are represented by the developer until they are purchased. Strata Councils are of course full of politics and people placements. It should raise eyebrows when a developer controls a number of votes and her husband sits on the council as President. In any other business or governmental department, this scenario has conflict of interest written all over it but, when it occurs within a nice little neighbourhood of “Sam’s”, no one is the wiser.
Once the strata units are all sold the developer is off the radar but her husband is still very much involved. The neighbours all like it that way because they feel secure and well managed and, most importantly, they can abdicate their responsibilities for asset management to a “ghost in the machine”.
For years this little relationship thrives. Liberties are taken. Kudos are self-directed and complacency sets in. Money starts being charged for work that is ideally volunteer- based upon the strata concept- but justifications abound. Christmas parties happen, friendships are established and the status quo is celebrated in earnest for another year at the AGM —- what a marvellous time of the year to do so when joy and peace and love are all forefront.
Happy New Year! Christmas is over. Time to do some catch up reading and wouldn’t you know, there is interesting reading when you aren’t caught up in Christmas spin and nostalgia.
The developer’s husband did not serve on Council for only one term. Interestingly, during that absence, the Strata Council started looking at property management but didn’t really disclose to owners what fuelled the search. Documents indicate a discussion will occur at the AGM.
The AGM begins but who is sitting at the head of the table reading out Minutes from the previous year and the agenda for the present meeting? Why, its the developer’s husband. Odd! The present council(on which the developer’s husband did not participate) is not terminated yet and a new council hasn’t been elected yet. The Corporation is advised by council – contrary to what it said it would do—-that management proposals were considered but the developer’s husband agreed to do the work for less than half of the professional fees and so at this AGM, he is the unelected, paid owner with the responsibility of Secretary and Treasurer!
So, the present council installed a previous council member for pay without authority and in contravention of the Strata Property Act. The legislation makes clear a corporation MUST have a Secretary and MUST have a Treasurer elected by owners not positioned by opportunists and lazy persons looking to offset their burden of responsibility. In addition, any paid owner with fiduciary responsibility needs to be very careful about trust and conflict. An owner paid to prepare the budget should certainly NOT manipulate owners to sign over proxies to him either.
Every year,without question, discussion or argument, an owner handled the corporation’s finances without been overseen by an elected Treasurer. That owner also prepared and handled all correspondence which smacks of Privacy Act violations not to mention spinning perception, without being overseen by an elected Secretary. And, perhaps most offensive of all, set his own price and conveniently neglected to advise Council to revisit his “agreement” annually. Very nice set up. And owners said nothing.
In strata every one wants to pretend they own their own property. They like the economy of it. If one person is willing to do it all and keep strata fees low (a misinterpretation because fees would be lower without paying one of their own) no one is going to complain. Fire Chiefs, Developers, Public Service Representatives, Accountants, Lawyers, Consultants, Entrepreneurs and even Artists and Do-gooders turn in their strata driveways everynight having left their working brains at the office. They become the most uneducated bunch of professionals within such close proximity to one another….sheeples. They pay homage to the developer’s hubby (wolf in sheep clothing) counting cash on his stoop while they drive by and they say to themselves, “Aren’t we the lucky ones?”
Duh….there are none so blind in strata swamps as those who will not see.