This article is the 2nd part (read Part 1) of our 2-part series of the role of Strata Council vs. the role of the Property Manager, where we answer:
Who makes the decisions: the Strata Council or the Property Manager?
With the huge growth of condo developments over the last 15 to 20 years in BC, more and more management companies have popped up to offer property management services to strata corporations. Often strata councils will hire the least expensive company expecting that all property management companies are created equal. Sooner or later, they discover, to their cost, that this is not the case.
Being a licensed property manager does not mean that the property manager necessarily understands the nuances of the Strata Property Act or is even familiar with your strata’s bylaws. Unfortunately, many members of strata councils do not spend the time to familiarize themselves with the Act or their strata bylaws and simply take the property manager’s advice as gospel and proceed accordingly.
A good property manager will make your strata a place where everyone wants to live. It will be run smoothly and efficiently and little problems will be dealt with quickly and efficiently before they become big, and expensive, problems.
Before your strata hires a property management company, or replaces a badly performing property management company, do your homework – check their references, talk to other strata councils who deal with them, check the court website to see if the property management company has been sued, and if so, why.
If you are on council and you hear advice from your property manager or see documents prepared by the property manager for your strata that seem wrong or inaccurate, question it. The strata is paying the property manager every month to help manage the strata’s operations and to give advice on management issues and you are entitled to expect competent service.
Some property managers will also give a strata council advice on what are essentially legal matters. Council members who follow such advice in situations that are likely to escalate and become very costly for the strata corporation may be exposing themselves to liability. Council members who create, even unwittingly, a situation that sparks a lawsuit against the strata corporation, will likely see an ensuing increase in their errors and omissions insurance or even a subsequent refusal from their insurance company to continue to insure them.
Therefore, when you think you may have a legal issue, consult a lawyer with some experience in strata matters before the issue spirals out of control and the two sides take hardened positions that will likely prevent a negotiated resolution.
Again, do your homework and don’t just retain the first lawyer recommended to you by your property manager. It is not unknown for property managers to work with the same lawyer with whom they have developed a close relationship over the years.
If the problem is a problem created or contributed to by your property manager, you should look elsewhere for your legal advice. It is just the sensible thing to do.
We would like to hear your strata stories and would encourage you to share them with us and our readers.