WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRATA CORPORATIONS AND STRATA COUNCILS?
Following my previous post detailing the basics of Strata (Condo) buildings, we’ll be diving into some detailed information about building management – the groups of people that manage each condo buildings in Kits – the Strata Corporation and the Strata Council!
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE STRATA CORPORATION
The Strata Corporation of [insert your Kitsilano condo building name here] consists of every owner of each “strata lot” (aka unit) in the building. Consider your condo as an investment, and owning your piece of the pie enables you to have a voice about how the building is managed, financially and otherwise (think of your Strata Corporation as lululemon, and the owners as stockholders).
As part of your building’s Strata Corporation, you are allowed to request to see the strata plan (which a map of the building outlining each strata lot), the financials, the meeting minutes, the bylaws and other documents pertaining to how the building is managed and run.
On a regular basis, the Strata Corporation maintains the building & the common property and ensures the owners are following the bylaws.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE STRATA COUNCIL
Condo buildings can have a few units (like Pariz on West 4th), or it can have hundreds (like the building in Kitsilano’s Arbutus Walk), so considering that each condo owner has a rightful say in how their investment is managed, there could be a lot of opinions about how to run the Kitsilano condo.
In order to manage all of these voices, a select group of people is elected to make decisions for everyone – this group is called the Strata Council (going back to the lululemon reference, think of them as the Board of Directors). This group (typically less than 10 people) has agreed to make decisions on behalf of everyone, specifically relating to the day to day tasks required to run the building (like which painter to hire to re-paint the building). The Strata Council doesn’t get paid, so the owners elected to this group must accept the role and be willing to put in extra work to keep the building in good shape.
The Strata Council works closely with the Property Management Company, an outside company hired to guide the Strata Council and manage the intricacies of building maintenance (Stratawest, Rancho, Pacifica First, are all examples of Property Management Companies).
If your unit has an issue (like a leak), if you want to do renovations on your unit, or if you want to rent out your unit, you’ll have to contact the Strata Council. Strata Council members are NOT paid, and are acting on your behalf to manage the health of their (and your) investment.
Every condo building has regular Strata Meetings (monthly or bi-monthly) to keep owners informed of the buildings happenings, to allow the owners to voice an opinion or to vote on a particular issue. These meetings can be quite dull, especially in condo buildings with a lot of units thus a lot of problems, however, it’s the best way to understand how your investment is being managed. If you’re concerned with the maintenance or management of your building, go to these meetings so your voice can be heard.
Every Strata Corporation must hold at least one yearly general meeting (AGM). This is the one meeting every year that you SHOULD go to because this is the meeting where the you elect the upcoming year’s strata council, where you vote on the yearly financial plan and where important building votes are held and decisions are made.
STRATA FEES (AKA CONDO FEES)
Every condo unit owner is responsible to pay Strata fees as part of their contribution to the ongoing maintenance of the building including general expenses (i.e. yard work, garbage collection, etc) and the Contingency Reserve Fund (an fund to be used for bigger expenses and repairs like the roof). The amount of your Strata fee is determined by the annual building budget (voted on at the AGM!) and the percentage of the building that you own (based on the amount of square footage that you own as a portion of the entire building’s square footage).
Owners HAVE to pay Strata fees. You’ll be fined if you don’t pay them and could run into legal trouble if your avoidance of paying them continues.
Large scale building repairs (i.e. roof, rainscreen, etc) can be very costly, which is why you may also receive an assessment (aka special levy). This is a certain amount of money the strata needs to complete necessary upgrades, and would be in addition to your regular strata fees. Special Levy’s are one reason why you never want to spend every dime you have on owning a home (you should always have some money set aside for unexpected bills).
Keep following the blog – I’ll continue to describe everything you need to know about strata (condo or townhome) units that applies to every building in Kitsilano.