There are incentives to entice people to council

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Tony Gioventu

Dear Condo Smarts: Our strata is a 55-and-over retirement community on Vancouver Island. We have an excellent manager and our properties are in great shape. There is one problem: We have an owner who harasses everyone to the point that at our AGM, no one would stand for council. This owner demands reports on everything we do and interrogates every contractor who comes on site. What happens when no one will be on council? Will the government appoint someone to administer our complex? Many of our owners can’t be bothered with the harassment.

— PH

Dear PH: Many strata corporations struggle with people unwilling to be on council. It’s either too much time, too much trouble or too much conflict. There are steps a strata can take to reduce harassment and operate smoothly. When there is a shortage of willing council members, the bylaws can be amended to permit other types of council eligibility. An example of that is a 36-unit building in Vancouver where the strata has amended the bylaws to permit owners’ children or grandchildren, who are not on title, to be eligible to be elected to council.

The other option is to adopt governance bylaws that strictly control how business is conducted. If owners violate the bylaws, the strata then needs to take bylaw-enforcement seriously. Occasionally, the matter results in the strata council fining the offender or proceeding to the courts to enforce the bylaws and end the constant harassment.

The next challenge is attracting people to council. Use professional services to deal with the problem people. While it may be costly, a strata council has much less stress if they can refer a matter of conflict to their legal counsel rather than struggle with it alone.

Strata councils can also be remunerated for their time. A bylaw can be created that compensates council for their time on behalf of the remaining owners. The 360-unit strata in Vancouver pays three strata council members $100 per month each.

The government will not impose someone on your strata. If the corporation fails to elect a council and ceases to function, eventually an owner(s) will commence a Supreme Court application to have an administrator appointed. This can be a positive decision for a dysfunctional corporation incapable of conducting business, but it is costly.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA). E-mail: [email protected]

© The Vancouver Province 2008


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