Guide #2: Strata Owner Basics

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1 Guide #2: Strata Owner Basics Disclaimer: This guide is for the readers convenience, and should not be considered as any sort of legal advice, or direction to resolving matters. It is intended to give a strata owner a general understanding of roles and duties pertaining to how Strata Corporation operates. These are merely the opinions and suggestions of the author, and are not the only method of organization a strata council can adopt. If for any reason there was an error in referencing, the act or other documents, or the act is amended where such references are no longer accurate. Then we apologize, as this guide is only updated periodically and updates may be missed.

2 This is a basic guide for Strata lot owners who are wondering how to act within a Strata Corporation. This guide is intended to give you a foundational understanding of how a Strata operates, the confidence of what exactly a strata corporation is, and an idea of the social atmosphere that exists within this type of housing accommodation. Guide Content Owner Introduction What is a Strata Corporation? Introduction to council The strata business process Owner responsibilities How to maintain property value Conclusion APPENDIX: The Strata Business Process Strata Owner Introduction Congratulations on your recent purchase of your strata lot. Whether you are a first time buyer, a relocating resident, an owner purchasing a property that is a little more manageable, you have made the right choice! Living in a Strata has many benefits depending on your circumstances, which were the reasons you bought here in the first place. It could be affordability, less work to maintain the property, close to work, whatever the reason is, try to re-affirm those reasons in your mind as much as possible. If this is your first time living in a strata lot, then there are some things you need to learn about strata living. This guide is designed to assist you in understanding everyone, so your time living within your strata corporation is an enjoyable one. I will mention that the attributes you must work on and develop are Patience, Respect, and Understanding. At times you may need all three to resolve an issue, and if you fail to execute one of these attributes you may find yourself angry, upset, frustrated, and selling or maybe suing someone. So practice these as much as possible, and anytime you need reminding of why you live there, think of the benefits. What is a Strata Corporation? A Strata Corporation is a community of owners all working toward a common goal. That goal is generally a well maintained home and property as if it was one property, with everyone offering respect and understanding to one another. The goal definition may vary depending on the property type. A Strata Corporation is governed by the Strata Property Act and the Personal Information Protection Act. The owners of the Strata Corporation elect council members to manage the issues that arise. The strata communities issues are divided into two categories; Social Management issues and Property Management issues. - Property Management Issues: Consists of Maintenance contracts, emergency repairs, insurance claims, Fire safety, and owners doing renovations before getting permission. Anything to do with the physical aspect of the property, and yes, to some degree the strata council has authority over your strata lot. The act has regulations that define exactly what the strata corporation has direct authority over, and what a strata lot owner is responsible for. Other regulations like, mandatory depreciation

3 reports, are developed to help the strata council understand the scope of repairs to the common assets and plan for the future repairs of the common property. - Social Management Issues: Consists of dispute resolution, interpretation and understandings of bylaws, bylaw hearings, complaints, dividing the work evenly amongst council members, etc. Social issues are usually born, by two owners trying to, either defend or exercise their rights. It is extremely important, that when you first buy into your strata lot, you understand your rights and responsibilities to avoid potential problems. Social issues can get so exhausting, that the only way council feels they can stop the fighting is by having bylaws enacted or established. So that an offending owner who is in the wrong can be subject to a fine, and it will influence their actions, hopefully into not offending or disturbing the owner(s) who aren t doing anything wrong. The Council is elected to resolve the issues arising out of property management issues and social management issues, and conduct meetings to discuss and execute solutions to problems. If there are lots of problems your council may need to have more meetings, if there are fewer problems, your council may decide to have less. The management of these issues rests with council and their commitment to Strata Corporation as a whole. The first step in the management of any, and every, issue is to consult you Strata Property Act and familiarize yourself with the governing laws, your strata bylaws, and any rules, if any. Once you and/or your council have a good understanding of the act and the bylaws, everyone can then have a better discussion as to what the solution is. Social Point of Interest: There may be times when council doesn t agree with you for whatever you want to do, or are writing to complain about. If this happens try to understand their reasoning, imagine yourself on their side and imagine their duty to act on behalf of everyone, and perhaps you will understand that, what you want to do, or what you are writing to complain about, is really an issue you need to work out with another owner, or that what you want will disturb another owner and the issue is about respecting everyone. Also don t expect a council member to give you a reason or tell you why their decision was such. You must respect the decision and understand it to the best of your ability. Always remember council is there for everyone and if someone tries to build something that blocks your view of the mountains and you don t like it, they most likely won t approve it. They are there for you as well. Respect them, understand them, and work with them, they are not your enemies, you are all working toward the common goal. Introduction to Council This section is to help you understand a council member a little better and understand how to approach them with issues you may have while living in the Strata Corporation. The Strata Council is typically volunteers, volunteering their time to manage your building. The better they are as managers the better your return on investment is. It is important that you understand the dedication and service they provide to you, as their work will help maintain your property value and when you sell, you will take some money with you. Without them you may lose money to a poorly managed property. So please respect the council, and attend every annual meeting as much as possible to show respect.

4 As we just explained there are two categories of issues a council must address and resolve, and just imagine yourself being on council, ideally you want as little issues as possible because that s your job, solving issues, and you re not paid for solving issues. So when you approach a council member sometimes they will be cautious, quiet, they may shy away from hearing you, and they most likely don t want you knocking at their door all the time. They may hear your complaint then instruct you to write a letter to council, to be able to address the issue. A council member will seldom act on a complaint without a letter clearly stating the infraction or disturbance, and not having council discuss it. Unless it s an emergency then they jump to into action. So take the time to familiarize yourself with the procedures on how to address council, who they are, names and contact info, and perhaps have a quick reference guide on your fridge. You just never know when you have an emergency, or need to write a letter to council. Social Point of Interest: If a council member instructs you to write a letter, it s not that they don t care; it s that there is a process and the process must be respected. They can listen and understand your issue, but they may not be able to act on whatever your issue is. If you have a property issue, write a letter describing the issue and what your request or issue is. It may take a while to address depending on the number of meetings council has, but rest assured council will discuss and determine what course of action, if any, to take. If you have a dispute between other owners, try to be courteous to one another, and resolve the issue to the best of your ability. Yelling and screaming at one another is destructive. The key phrase when talking to another owner is, Respect and Understanding. Never enter into an Argument, always approach the situation like it is a Negotiation, and there is always a solution, and/or compromise. The Strata Business Process Once you have familiarized yourself with how to address council, and how to submit complaints, your issues will be discussed at the next council meeting. If you want to, you may attend that meeting as an observer, you may request to speak on the issue you are concerned about, or if in a conflict of interest may be asked to leave council discussion. Council will discuss your concerns under new business and either a letter will be written with council response, or you will be notified of councils decision through the meeting minutes. The Appendix at the end of this guide will give you a graphical image of the process of council actions and moving strata business affairs forward. Owner Responsibilities As an owner your duty is the most important, to ensure the strata corporation has as few issues as possible. Anything from property issues to social issues, all issues begin and end with you and this is a brief outline of your responsibilities within the Strata Corporation.

5 As a Resident Owner A resident owner s duty is to work with the strata corporation, and the council, as a whole to achieve the common goal of a well maintained property, and to have absolute, respect and understanding, for the other owners/occupants of the strata corporation. You have; 1. A duty to inform council of issues or repairs that are needing addressing, 2. A duty to respect the property and refrain from causing damage, 3. A duty to respect the bylaws enacted by the strata corporation, to the benefit of everyone 4. A duty to be courteous, respectful, and free of animosity toward any other owners/occupants. 5. A duty to contribute to the management of the strata to the best of your ability. 6. A duty to review meeting minutes and attend annual general meetings to ensure effective council management. Social Point of Interest: You may feel like this is a lot of responsibility, but it s no different than you owning your own home. You do the repairs, you get mad when someone damages it, you ask everyone respect your house rules, you may ensure anyone in your house is respectful of one another, you may ask other to help you clean up the house, and then your family may sit down and review the house budget so everyone knows what s going on. Well you might not do all of this, but some of them for sure. My point is the duty of an owner in a strata corporation is no different than having your family under one roof in your own home. So if you ask for respect in your home, make sure you have respect within your strata home. As an Investor Owner An investor owner wants all of the above, and the duties are the same, except when a tenant occupies a strata lot some duties get passed down to the tenant. Tenant s duties are; 1. A duty to respect the property and refrain from causing damage, 2. A duty to respect the bylaws enacted by the strata corporation, to the benefit of everyone 3. A duty to be courteous, respectful, and free of animosity toward any other owners/occupants. The investor owner maintains; 1. A duty to inform council of issues or repairs that are needing addressing,(via self or via the tenant) 2. A duty to contribute to the management of the strata to the best of their ability. 3. A duty to review meeting minutes and attend annual general meetings to ensure effective strata management.

6 Social Point of Interest: If a tenant causes damage, a resident owner will naturally want to charge you (investor owner) and blame the tenant. You will naturally defend your tenant without proof of misconduct, and may be upset if a council fines you. But before any of these problems exist, and we can t stop all of them, make sure that when you rent your tenant signs a form K and you re-affirm and emphasize the importance of respecting the other owners, the bylaws, and the property. If you don t, these issues will arise and cause problems, because a tenant doesn t understand, and frankly they don t care, unless you show them you care. Personally I sit down for coffee and have an interview with my potential tenants, get to know them a little better, laugh and joke around. Usually it makes a better relationship and greater respect. So concluding your duties, take the time to familiarize yourself with the bylaws, and rules. And if ever you want to alter, or build something consult the act first then the bylaws, then put in your request to council (if necessary). Understanding those will save you a lot of wasted time and frustration later on. How to maintain property value The Value of your property within the Strata Community can vary depending on several factors; Age, Location, Strata Fees, Bylaws and Regulations, Management, CRF Balance, Operating Budget, Strata Lot updates, Market Trends, Mortgage interest rates, Local Economy, Neighborhood, etc. Your BC Assessment addresses most of these factors to give you a general appraisal price of your property. As an owner you can contribute to maintaining property value by doing some simple tasks. Those are; 1. Take an interest in the council and the management of the Strata. Council and the management have a lot of control over expenses. Typically an in-active council that delegates everything to the property manager will be less in control of expenses and decisions that affect you and the value of your property. Like I said Strata Fees affect housing affordability and the overall value of your home when you go to sell. If the property manager does everything expect to pay more strata fees. So it s important that owners take the time to observe councils management decisions and observe exactly what the council is in charge of, which members/agents are signing the checks, are three quotes being obtained in certain circumstances, etc. Naturally many individuals don t know how to manage a strata so they rely a lot on the strata manager to make recommendations and execute decisions put before council. 2. Report property deficiencies to council Unfortunately not all councils are active and do property walk-arounds, nor will you see a property manager do walk arounds, as they are too busy coordinating everything else. So as an owner if you see something broken make sure to inform a council member so they may address issues at the next meeting. Again addressing property issues on a regular basis is typically the best way to maintain value. 3. Proper rental investment strategies (if you re an investor) If you own an investment property and you are renting it out, your biggest liability is the person you put in there! If you select the first tenant to apply because you re afraid of not earning a revenue for that month, you will quickly learn that not taking the time and due diligence to be picky and choosy of your

7 tenants will cost you more than one month s rent, upset the strata corporation, and spend more time putting out fires. So ensure that when you are renting within a Strata Community you have a formal rental agreement, signed Form K s, Tenants Insurance, application forms, and budget for gifts to improve tenant relations. A strata community is about respecting the people around you, and you don t have control over your tenant other than asking them to please be courteous, polite, respectful, etc. Also when it comes to the interior of the suite you don t want them to damage it so keep it in good repair and respond to maintenance calls ASAP and you will find a general respect of your investment, the strata community, and a better ROI. Conclusion So that s all we have for you right now unless you become a council member then you may review other guides, but hopefully you understand that Strata ownership requires patience, understanding, and respect for everyone who owns within the community. Hopefully through this guide we were able to effectively explain; 1. What a Strata Corporation is 2. Generally what issues arise within a strata community 3. Familiarize yourself with how to ask, approach and respect council members and Strata business process 4. Your general duties as an owner and how to maximize your return on investment

8 The Strata Business Process Council Report: Property Repair Issue Owner Correspondance: Letter of Complaint Contract Management: Strata Insurance Renewal Strata Council Meeting Decisions Get Executed Strata Business is conducted by Council. They all must know what s going on to consider the issues and make a decision. So if you as an owner want to communicate with council; write a letter. The Strata Business Timeline New Issue #1 Un-finished Business New Issue #2 Meeting #1 January Decisions Get Executed New Issue #3 Un-finished Business New Issue #4 Meeting #2 April Decisions Get Executed Strata Councils may need more information before making a decision on a particular issue. So any un-finished business gets bumped to the next meeting.

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