What to do without a council

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Failure to elect members doesn’t rule out alternatives

Tony Gioventu

Dear Condo Smarts : In 2001 our strata council adopted a set of bylaws that included a limit on the number of consecutive terms a councillor might serve. The number is three. Our records show this limit was a recommendation from a parliamentarian who assisted us with our bylaws: he thought a term limit would facilitate change at the top. Our strata corporation has recently started to run out of people to serve. At our AGM, none of our five council members could continue because they had all served three years and no one else wanted to be elected to council. No one knows what to do, and we now have no strata council. We are an aging community and most residents couldn’t even be bothered in coming to our meetings. What happens when a strata does not elect a council?

Marj D. Kelowna

Dear Marj: Your problem is a growing concern in the province. Council members are volunteers serving their fellow owners, and the role can be a very time-consuming and stressful job.

Your strata obviously needs to amend its bylaws quickly to ensure you can elect those people who are willing to serve.

Strata corporations are best served if their strata councils are well served. Annual budgets should include consulting services for legal, procedural and operational professionals. When a strata council runs into a bit of trouble, they should have the resources available to pay for the professionals who can help them out.

Strata councils often find bylaw enforcement very frustrating, often because the owners do not provide enough resources for council to take action when it’s needed. Absent funds or support, condo smarts councils are often resigned that there is little they can do.

There are serious repercussions if your corporation does not elect a council. You will not be able to enforce bylaws, which instantly means if someone does not pay strata fees no one can collect the funds. If you are self managed, no one can sign information or payment certificate requests for sales agreements, and generally the strata corporation will cease to operate within the requirements of the legislation.

Eventually an owner(s) will have to apply to the courts for the appointment of an administrator to manage the affairs of the corporation. If a strata corporation reaches a serious impasse over administration of affairs, the administrator may be the correct decision, but simply failing to elect a council may not be the appropriate decision.

Strata corporations have many choices in addition to owners being elected to council. Bylaws can be amended to permit the election of: “spouses of owners not on title, family members of owners not on title, professionals, tenants, or other parties.”

Whether your strata is self managed, or contractor manager, make sure your bylaws truly reflect the needs of your community, and your annual budget provides the necessary tools for the strata council to perform their roles effectively.

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