Altering Common Property is one of those systemic overgrowths that roots like Morning Glory and never wants to yield. Honestly, most strata owners don’t care about Common Property until they have to pay to maintain or repair it – interestingly enough, the whole concept of strata living. Appropriation for Common Property is a tricky little business best left to third parties without a personal interest in the outcome and supervised by the Strata Council elected to do so. Where individual owners believe they have control over the strata council well, you don’t really have a strata do you – plenty of eaten cake – but not really a strata.
Rigorous examination of any changes to Common Property is the job of the strata council not individual owners. Granted, owners have no difficulty pointing out what they want they just don’t want to be bothered with the burden of responsibility required to get there. Subsequently, the Strata Council exercises accountablity to owners, accountability to and through the Strata Property Act and corporate bylaws and accountability to themselves as beneficiaries of the effort.
Property values are subjective, can be litigative and can have significant negative impacts on strata owners. So the whole “one for all” idealism must be considered for all owners that may be affected by any change to Common assets. This of course requires council members to have far sight and knowledge beyond appeasement of the neighbourhood status quo. Tough decisions have many working parts to them and should never be a bare whisper of a motion at an AGM. Structural peculiarities, architectural integrity, reduction or increase of the actual Common Property, are some of the beasts that certainly add some burden to the responsibility of Council members.
Council needs to research municipal permits and bylaws; investigate and hire a competent and licensed contractor, plan, write and agree to detailed structural drawings and satisfactory completion criteria, and finally, budget for the finished structural drawings indicating expansion or diminishment of space to be registered with Land Titles. After all this, then Council MUST propose the whole project to the owners through a Special General Meeting or an Annual General Meeting.
Council members who enjoy the title but not the work or pay without knowledge will not be inclined to expend so much effort on one alteration to Common Property. Depreciation reports are actually a very good thing for Strata Properties because there is a general assumption on the part of owners unfamiliar with the Act that the commitment on the owners’ part through its council to undertake the burden of responsibility through supervision and completion of the work together with the commitment to pay all costs, is sufficient reason to approve an alteration. A depreciation report is good for business especially when strata owners can be morning glory flowers for appearances and weeds for responsibility towards their elected Council. Let Council armed with depreciation reports, be the beast of burden and the weed kill for mistakes when altering Common Property that will not have negative impacts on the value of the strata property for buyers and sellers alike.