Strata 101

In these short, insightful and humorous columns, published monthly in The Coast Reporter and online, Niina Mayhew provides a first hand account of what it means to be a Strata Manager.

Grilling Daze

Posted by on Jul 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

Summer has finally arrived! And on the Sunshine Coast, part of the summer ritual is the barbequing of fresh sea food, premium grade steaks and a vegetarian delight of summer fresh veggies and fruit.

On one of those perfect summer evenings, Joe, a tenant in a bareland strata, popped a cold one, hauled out his Propane Ultimate Man Grill with a 60,000 BTU 6 burner system and proceeded to grill a 20 lb. salmon he had caught earlier that day, along with a bucket of prawns and 2 inch T-bones.

He invited his entire baseball and hockey team for a “Welcome Summer” bash. A brisk breeze carried the smoke, odours and noise from the BBQ to a neighbouring strata lot, where Joy, the owner, was relaxing in her hammock,
reading the Dummies Guide to Meditation.

Joy was offended by the intrusion to her serenity and she promptly marched over to the residence of the strata council president, demanding that the tenant be told to stop immediately.

There is a misconception out there that bareland strata corporations don’t have bylaws like townhouse or apartment style stratas do. However, a strata is a strata is a strata, whether it is a townhouse, apartment, commercial or bare land. This particular strata corporation had a bylaw prohibiting barbeques, along with the nuisance bylaw under the Standard Bylaws.

Joe refused to quit his barbequing as his landlord had never notified him of the bylaws and went on to have similar weekend events.

Eventually, the strata council fined Joe $200 for breach of the bylaws, which Joe also refused to pay.

The landlord and owner of the strata lot ended up paying the fine. As he had not given the tenant a set of the bylaws along with a Form K as required under Section 46 of the Strata Property Act, the landlord could not recover the $200 fine from his tenant.

In fact, the tenant gave notice to vacate, and demanded reasonable moving costs, which he received under Section 46 3(a).
Happy grilling – but check those bylaws first! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at niina@holywell.ca.

 

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.

Strata Management

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

A question I have been asked a lot recently has been “What exactly is it that you do?” My answer usually is “Grab a coffee – this will take a while.”

My job is to manage the best interests of my client (the strata corporation) while acting within the Strata Property Act.

This includes things like preparing budgets, agendas and minutes, filling requests for Information Certificates (Form B), advising councils, obtaining quotes, monthly financials, collections of arrears, correspondence, adherence of bylaws, and the list goes on.

Ongoing education is essential in this field, and if you see me on a 6:20 AM ferry on a weekday, I am probably on my way to a course to keep informed and up to date. I work with councils, owners, realtors and potential buyers, engineers, insurance brokers and adjustors, lawyers and most every kind of contractor between accountants and Zoologists (Pest control wouldn’t touch the mountain goat issues!) .

I deal with all manner of poop – from seagulls to bears and everything in between. Feuding neighbours, feuding councils, leaks, floods, fires, sinking buildings, blown off roofs, rats, bats and cats…get the picture?

Every time I think I have seen it all, I get surprised once again. (My favorite is still the inebriated council person who called in the wee hours hollering’ that the lock on the front door of his building was defective and he couldn’t get in. Turned out he was at the wrong address. Flowers were delivered the next morning with a sheepish apology.)

Under legislation, a strata manager must work under the direction of a strata council. In other words, we can’t make decisions and we can’t take action unless a council tells us to by a majority vote, which usually happens at
the council meeting level. Council members also work under the legislation of the Strata Property Act.

A proactive council understands their duties under the Act and work together as a team in the best interest of their strata corporation. Working with these council members is the best part of my job. What would be the worst part? Trying to work with those council members who turned to the Dark Side, but those tales of terror will be covered in future columns.

Call me crazy, but I love what I do. It is not a job for the faint hearted, thin skinned or even those with a complete grasp of sanity. A strata manager needs to have two attributes; a sense of humor (because in this job, if you can’t laugh, you WILL cry) and a thick skin.

After all these years of working in this field, four inches of rhinoceros hide has formed onto my frame. And no, that slice of cake beside my keyboard has nothing to do with those extra inches….

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at niina@holywell.ca.

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.

 

Strata Rules & Bylaws

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

After three weeks of lugging a back pack through Nepal and India, I now truly understand how lucky we are to live in this part of the world. Don’t get me wrong! I would go back without a second thought and I loved the chaos and noise that one can only experience in the streets of Kathmandu or New Delhi.

Despite the seemingly chaotic, unorganized traffic in that region of the world, there were rules. They may not be the same rules we follow here while driving, but unwritten rules nonetheless. But while they worked for the streets of India, they certainly would not work on the streets of Sechelt or Gibsons. (And in 3 weeks of travel, I saw only one accident – my tuk tuk getting hit bya bicycle carrying a crate of chickens!  The only parties who seemed to be perturbed by the incident were the chickens.)

The bylaws of a strata corporation are much the same. What works for one strata may not work for another. Well written and easily understood bylaws are an essential part of the “rules of the road” for strata corporations and without them there could be chaos. As an owner of a strata lot, it is your duty to ensure that you understand and abide by the bylaws of your strata corporation just as you should abide by the rules of the road. Council members have a duty to uphold the bylaws of a strata corporation, so be gentle in your response to a fi ne for a bylaw infraction.  (By the way – ignorance is not an excuse!)

When was the last time that you read the bylaws of your strata corporation? Are they current and enforceable? Were old bylaws repealed before new ones were approved at a general meeting by a ¾ vote? Were they registered? Do your bylaws comply with the Strata Property Act, Regulations and Human Rights Code? If you don’t know the answers, consider budgeting for a bylaw review by a lawyer at your next AGM. The cost of having a well thought
out, clear set of bylaws is much cheaper than defending unenforceable bylaws in the court system.

Do you have a question about strata? Please feel free to email me at niina@holywell.ca.

 

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.

Canucks Flag Part III

Posted by on Apr 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

Poor Jill. In her reign as president of the strata council, she had caused a law suit and levied fines which she could not collect – and all because of one Canucks fan. At the last Annual General Meeting, a bylaw banning Canucks flags on balconies was approved by a ¾ vote and she was once again elected to council, ever vigilant to police bylaw infractions.

The Canucks took top spot in the Western Conference, and to Jill’s dismay, familiar flags began to show up in unit windows and on vehicles throughout the complex as the team and fans geared up for another Stanley Cup playoff. Jill quickly scanned the Strata Property Act and found Section 125 (1) The strata corporation  may make rules governing the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets.

Jill quickly called together a few other council members for a quorum, passed a rule reading “No Canucks flags to be hung in windows”, posted it on the bulletin board and notified owners that a fine of $200 will be levied
unless all flags were removed.

Jill was right in that a strata corporation can introduce rules which are in effect until ratified at the next AGM. But was she right about this rule? No. The key words in Section 125 are “common property and common assets”.

Next month will explain how and where Jill went wrong, in more ways than one.

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.

 

Canucks Flag Part II

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

Last month we were talking about Jack and Jill and the Canucks flag and how not following the Strata Property Act can get a council and a strata corporation into trouble.

Now, let’s say at the General Meeting to approve that special levy for legal fees, the ownership also approved a new bylaw saying “No hockey flags are permitted”. Jill, in an effort to recoup some of those legal fees and her dignity, immediately starts fining Jack $200 for every 7 days the Canucks flag is on his balcony.

She gets a request for a Form F (Certificate of Payment) from Jack’s lawyer in order to transfer title and Jill demands payment of $800 in fi nes before giving it.

Surely she is right this time – isn’t she? Maybe not. Under Section 128(2) of the Act

If an amendment to a bylaw is approved, an Amendment to Bylaws that sets out that amendment and is in the prescribed form must be filed in the land title office and, until that filing, the amendment has no effect.

 

It seems the bylaw amendment wasn’t properly registered with a Form I by Jill.

Could it get any worse for Jill? More next month.

 

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.

Canucks Flag Part I

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Strata 101 | 0 comments

It seems an owner (Let’s call him Jack) and a council member (Jill) had ongoing differences of opinion about the Canucks flag draped over his balcony during hockey season.

Jack put his condo on the market and got a great offer – but when Jack went asking for an Information Certificate (Form B) from the strata council, Jill (being a Flames fan) refused to provide the form unless Jack removed the flag.

Was she, as a council member, in the right? No! Section 59(1) of the Act states “Within one week of a request by an owner, a purchaser or a person authorized by an owner or purchaser, the strata corporation must give to the person making the request an Information Certificate in the prescribed form.”

Now let’s say the sale fell through because Jack could not give the Form B to the buyer and he didn’t get another offer for 2 months and it was $10,000 less. The strata corporation is served with a writ by Jack’s lawyer, and Jill is put into the position of explaining to the ownership about why they need to pay a special levy for legal fees.

Having worked with over a hundred strata councils, I find it is not uncommon for personal feelings or opinions to get involved in the decisions sometimes made by councils.

However, following the letter of the law is the best (and cheapest!) way to go.

 

More on that Canucks fl ag and bylaws next month… go, Canucks, go!

 

Niina Mayhew, the strata manager for Holywell Properties, has close to twenty five years of experience in the real estate industry.

She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from the Thompson Okanagan region to be closer to family. Before joining Holywell Properties, Niina was a senior property manager, leading a team of property managers and support staff and overseeing the operation of 60 strata corporations based in resort locations from Kamloops to the BC/Alberta border.

She is well versed in working with stratas, including sections, quarter and time shares, condo hotels, commercial and bare land strata corporations.

She is firm believer that communication is everything in working with strata councils and owners, and while she takes her job seriously, often finds humor in it as well.

Niina has acted in a consulting role with developers, from  small family oriented townhome complexes to sectioned air space strata corporations.

Her expertise can assist developers in understanding the requirements of the Strata Property Act, preparing budgets and disclosures as well as preparing for the first annual general meeting.

Niina can be reached via email at niina@holywell.ca and via phone at 604 885 3460.