Strata council ordered by B.C. court to release list of all owners to one of its members

Do you know the names of your neighbours and do they know yours? A B.C. condo owner went to court to force his strata council to hand over a list of names of all other strata lot owners in his development, after the council refused his request.

A civil resolution tribunal member agreed with the owner. Citing B.C. law, it ordered the strata to compile the list and provide it to the owner, over council’s protestations of privacy and safety concerns, including worries the list could be used for criminal purposes.

“The strata has provided no valid justification for its refusal,” ruled Chad McCarthy.

Ken Johnson several times last year requested an “owner contact list” that he is entitled to under B.C.’s Strata Property Act.

The strata refused, saying he “didn’t provide an adequate reason” and it had concerns about disclosing strata lot owners’ personal information, which includes names, strata lot and mailing addresses, and information on parking stalls, storage lockers and unit entitlements.

The strata passed a motion last summer confirming its refusal to provide Johnson with the list and at a December hearing with Johnson said it wouldn’t release the list to anyone.

But section 35 of the Strata Property Act sets out a strata’s obligation to “create and retain certain records” and section 36 says “on receiving a request from a strata lot owner, properly authorized tenant, or other person authorized by an owner or authorized tenant, the strata must make available” such a list, McCarthy wrote.

The strata had owner information in individual owners files but not in a separate list and it wanted Johnson to bear the cost of compiling it.

The strata also argued disclosing owner contact information could harm those “who have experienced abusive relationships or who have sensitive jobs, such as policing.” It also said it had concerns the list “could be used for criminal purposes.” The strata also noted the information was publicly available elsewhere, such as in the land titles office.

The strata said “disclosure of the list was not in the best interests of the ‘community’” and some owners wanted their names left off.

The tribunal noted the strata had a “statutory obligation” to have an owner contact list under the law and the strata was therefore in violation of the Act. He also said no one had the right to be excluded and an owner doesn’t have to provide a reason for wanting the list nor does an owner “need to demonstrate that his request is in the best interests of anyone.”

“Nothing before me demonstrates that the strata has a valid basis for refusing Mr. Johnson’s owner contact list request,” wrote McCarthy. He noted B.C.’s privacy laws allows for such a list.

He ordered the strata to comply within 21 days and to pay Johnson’s $225 in tribunal fees.

Neither party could be reached for comment.

This article is from the Vancouver Sun. July 2021 (also, find my story in these blog files about Gang Leader Jonathon Bacon owning/living in one of our strata complexes at the top of the mountain in Port Moody prior to his murder…)

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Different Classes of Persons on Council (not pertaining to Caste -Terra Nova)

Our strata corporation proposed a new bylaw at our recent annual meeting that will permit other classes of people to be elected to the strata council. It does not define what this means, and at our information meeting, the council basically suggested it could be any other type of person who might fill our needs such as an accountant, an engineer or realtor that would be working with us on projects. Our manager has advised this is a common bylaw being adopted by strata corporations. Is this correct? As owners who pay the cost of the operations of our strata corporation, could you please explain how these classes of persons would be elected and how they could contribute to our operations for special projects and avoid being in a conflict of interest if they are also to provide us professional services? Our owners ultimately defeated the proposed bylaw subject to better definitions of who these people could be elected and under what circumstances. Ian & Margo H.

Dear Ian & Margo: There are a small number of strata corporations who have adopted a bylaw that permits other classes of persons to be elected to council; however, clearly understand the implications of such a bylaw as certain classes of persons may have no interest in a strata lot or the consequences associated with their appointments. The provisions of the Strata Property Act automatically qualify an owner who is the person registered on title, a tenant who has been granted the owner’s rights and a corporate representative of a strata lot registered to a company, to be elected or appointed to council. All these persons have some sort of interest or assignment to the owner of the strata lots. This includes both residential and commercial/non-residential strata lots. Other classes of persons who are not defined, may have no interest, except their personal benefits and could place your strata corporation in a precarious position. There may also be limitations on directors and officer’s liability insurance coverage if your strata corporation has a significant exposure to liability or the appointees have history of criminal records or litigation.
While other classes of persons may not be appropriate for some types of strata corporations, this may be an ideal solution for other types of operations that require a much higher level of activity and involvement beyond the normal scope of a volunteer. An amendment we encounter is a spouse of an owner who is not on title or a family member with the written consent of an owner. For a variety of taxation or professional reasons not all spouses are registered on title, and family members in retirement communities may be helpful in filling in the additional spaces often vacant on strata councils. These persons may bring a higher level of professional support to the strata councils; however, strata corporations should avoid electing or appointing individuals if the candidate or their companies are providing any type of professional or compensated services to the strata corporation. If you need to evaluate whether there could be a conflict of interest, there probably is. It is critical your owners retain control of your strata corporation. Consider a bylaw that clearly defines who the other classes of persons may be and limits other classes of persons ensuring the majority of council are still owners, assigned tenants or corporate representatives. Consult a lawyer experienced in strata legislation to develop the bylaw for your consideration and don’t pirate bylaws from another strata corporation. What works for them may create a significant liability for your community.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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How Do We Count Proxy Votes Separately at a Meeting?

What happens when owners get to a general meeting and the proxy votes have already been counted and the outcome of each resolution is already known? At our annual meeting last week, the property manager pointed out to everyone that the proxy votes for the annual budget, the approval of a contingency expense for roofing had already passed because so many proxy votes were issued in advance of the meeting. If that is true, what’s the point of having a meeting? Why wouldn’t we simply just send in ballots and save the cost and time? This does seem to seriously undermine the rights of owners though because we weren’t allowed to propose amendments to the new rule on bicycle storage or the proposed budget, even though the Act permits the budget to be amended. As owners we are concerned our rights are being manipulated to prevent a fair voting and decision-making process. Claire W.

Dear Claire: The practice of pre-counting and reporting ballots is not permitted under the Strata Property Act as those votes are not yet counted and valid. There is no provision for absentee or written ballots and voting. This ensures strata owners either in person or by proxy are represented as registered eligible voters at meetings, are issued a voting card status in some electronic format, and their votes are counted and calculated representing their instructions. The definitions of the Act for majority and 3/4 votes requires that only those votes that have been passed for or against a resolution “at the time the vote is taken” and who have not abstained from voting are counted. When the vote is called, the chairperson will first determine in accordance with the bylaws how the vote is conducted, and then call for all those votes in favour, and then any votes opposed. This is the total number that is used to calculate whether the resolution has passed or not. Abstentions or persons who have not voted are not votes opposed, they are simply votes that have not been cast or counted. If proxies have been issued or assigned, they must identify who the proxy holder is representing those votes, and that person is registered like everyone other eligible voter and identified by the number of proxies and/or votes they are representing. It is important either in advance of the meeting or at the time of the registration proxy holders provide a copy of the proxies they have been assigned to the registrar who can verify they are a valid proxy, maintain a record for the strata corporation, and provide that information to the chairperson who in turns certifies the proxies and eligible voters when the meeting is called to order. Proxies may have restrictions imposed on them by owners, which is a privilege of the proxy holder not the strata corporation. In addition to the proxies, the Chairperson will need to be aware of any restrictions, however the voting instructions are irrelevant at this time as they only apply once the vote is taken, while many owners leave discretion to the proxy holder. Electronic meetings require more attention to detail to enable access to voting for all registered eligible voters, often because there are multiple access methods to the meeting. A scrutineer appointed by majority vote at the meeting enables the voting to be conducted, calculated, and reported to the chairperson, and the registrar of the meeting who signed in the eligible voters is often the best person to fulfill this task as they have access to the registration list and the eligible voters. Whatever platform is used, one key element to remember is the strata corporation must still identify who is voting at the time the vote is taken and this can be performed by calling the roll of registered voters, using a poll showing the virtual voting cards, or some other method permitted in the bylaws to verify accuracy. The requirement for electronic meetings did not discharge the obligation of strata corporations to comply with their bylaws, the Standard Bylaws or provisions of the Act. Owners may still propose amendments to majority vote resolutions, including the annual budget at an AGM prior to voting on the final resolutions, and the majority of owners control the proceedings at the meeting. Remember a principle of procedures at general meetings for strata corporations. “Matters are decided at a general meeting by a majority vote unless a different voting threshold is required”.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Owner/Occupant Education is Critical

We had a dreaded flood in our building caused by a defective washing machine where the pump switch failed to turn off. The tenant had started a load of laundry and left to get groceries. By the time she had returned we had to access the unit to turn the water off and 5 units below were damaged. She was genuinely apologetic and did not realize the risk. We have also experienced an owner 8 years ago running the tub, falling asleep and wash cloth plugging the overflow until several neighbours woke the owner by pounding on the door and getting the water turned off. No doubt this is going to affect our insurance renewal come November as the emergency response and damages to drywall and flooring of each unit will likely exceed our deductible. As owners and council members in a small high rise we have vigilantly implemented our deprecation report and contributed a significant amount to our contingency fund for planned renewals. We have no pending major upgrades until 2027 but occupant behaviour is destroying our insurance rating. If we have a substantial increase in our insurance because of this incident, are the remainder of the owners in a position to sue to the owner of this strata lot because our insurance rating is harmed? Barry M.

Dear Barry: Owner and tenant education on managing and reducing the risk of claims is one of the most valuable actions for strata corporations. An annual checklist outlining the responsibility of occupants will greatly reduce errors that result in claims. While most actions are common sense, it is all too easy for residents to become complacent about daily use and function, and we routinely need reminders of our responsibilities. Appliance failures, water overflows from toilets, tubs and sinks, home grown alterations and upgrades to taps and faucets, are frequent cause of claims. Ultimately the owner of a strata lot is responsible for the actions of their occupants, tenants and guests. In this scenario, in addition to the failure of the defective washing machine, the failure to remain within the strata lot while the appliance was operating was the fault of the tenant. Your strata corporation is permitted under the Strata Property Act and your bylaws to seek recovery of the $100,000 deductible if a claim is filed. Occupants should never leave a strata lot if there is an appliance or fixtures in use, but we all do at some point and everyone pays the price when the failure is imminent. Running water, washing machines, dishwashers and dryers, should never be left unattended. Had the tenant been home, the water could have easily been turned off avoiding the disruption to 5 other owners and the insurable loss.
In a 2011 BC Provincial court decision, the owner was found responsible for the $25,000 deductible relating to an overflowing toilet. The eventual cause was flushing the toilet and leaving the unit before the system had cleared, resulting in a continuously flooding toilet bowl. The court found it is an owner’s responsibility to ensure that each time after flushing, the waste cleared properly from the bowl. The owner was in a position to monitor their proper working condition and to ensure on each use that nothing prevented the toilet bowl from emptying and nothing caused it to overflow. The owner owed a duty to the Strata Corporation and his neighbours to monitor the functioning of his toilet after each flush. Ironically, the amount of time to undertake such monitoring would be consistent with the amount of time it takes to wash one’s hands after using the bathroom. Lisa Mackie, a Vancouver lawyer who deals with strata insurers and liabilities, advises strata councils to closely review their bylaws to confirm they have sufficient language to pursue these novel claims. According to Lisa, “While the Strata Property Act opens the door for strata corporations to sue an owner for the deductible portion of an insurance claim if the owner is responsible for the loss or damage that gave rise to the claim, there is no automatic window of opportunity to recover increased premiums or damages that result from compromised insurance coverage. While there may be circumstances which support such a claim, it is also important to remember that a “win” in Court does not necessarily translate into actual winnings.” For those communities struggling with repeat offenders, Lisa suggests that there is likely more value in exploring other remedies the Strata Property Act has to offer, such as an eviction or forced sale.”
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Bundling Resolutions

Our recent Annual General Meeting held electronically had 17 resolutions on the agenda for upgrades and repairs to our buildings. Our meeting dragged on for almost 5 hours and in the end every resolution passed. There were 4 special levies and 13 majority vote resolutions to approve items recommended in our depreciation report. The notice package and resolutions were written by our strata manager and other than the president the remainder of council did not have a chance to approve or review the content or agenda. By time we reached the election of council after 4 hours, more than half of the voters had left the meeting, and we barely managed to elect a new council. Several owners asked why we did not bundle the resolutions to make this quicker and the manager advised they had to be separate. Is there an easier method of addressing these types of resolutions to reduce the impact on our owners? Darla D.

Dear Darla: There is no requirement to separate resolutions for expenses either by majority vote or 3/4 vote for a special levy. If a strata corporation is expecting challenges with approving a resolution it may be helpful to separate those specific resolutions to avoid the failure of the remainder. The resolutions and business on th e agenda are approved at a council meeting by majority vote of council unless the council by majority vote had delegated that authority to a specific council member such as the president. Either way those decisions are recorded in the minutes of the meetings. Also of importance is the writing of the resolutions. Under the Legal Professions Act in BC, the writing of resolutions or bylaws for a corporation or association and charging a fee, is a practice of law. While strata corporations often pressure their managers to write the resolutions to avoid the costs, when there is conflict from a defective resolution, everyone pays. Majority vote resolutions that approve repairs, maintenance, and renewals as part of the depreciation report recommendations may easily be itemized into a single resolution; however, the specific allocated funds and scope of work for each item should still be detailed within the resolution to ensure the council has the authority to proceed with the work and spend the funds. Special levies are often addressed separately as they result in unanticipated higher costs, detailed projects that require a higher level of detail and accountability, and the possible result of collections from owners who fail to pay their special levies. Your special levies for the recommended upgrades were low and with all four in one resolution, the total for the largest unit would have been only $705. On checking your management service agreement, there is a $10 per unit per levy fee being charged, which in your strata corporation totals a $4,800 cost that could have been reduced to $1,200 with a single resolution. At a recent strata meeting I attended, a strata corporation with over 300 units passed a single resolution for their planned depreciation resolutions by majority vote for a total of $1.8 million dollars. The resolution was detailed to match the depreciation report and it took 10 minutes to approve the resolution. Their meeting was completed in 45 minutes, including annual budget and council elections.
None of us want higher strata fees, but it is much more economical to contribute higher amounts in the reserve funds each year than wait for special levies. Special levies are simply deferred strata fees because our communities are not implementing and reviewing our depreciation reports effectively, but they are often the last resort of a deferred maintenance program. From experience and case studies we know deferred maintenance and repairs result in unpredictable costs of 30-50% higher causing break downs, higher insurance costs as the frequency of claims increase, emergency repairs which are significantly costlier and often do not resolve the root causes, and disruption to the use and enjoyment of common property and strata lots.
A scheduled council meeting to discuss and approve your agenda and resolutions prior to notice being issued is a valuable exercise to avoid many of these pitfalls. Strata councils are not a singular person. They are a collective of elected voting owners who determine the scope of business and administration for your community and the enforcement of the bylaws and rules of the strata corporation.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Who Decides if an Owner Should Pay the Deductible?

Three years ago, my washing machine hose ruptured causing a flood in my unit and the two units below me. It was managed well by the strata insurance provider without any delays and as expected I was responsible for the deductible, which at the time was $5,000. Six months ago, one of our council members had renovation done to her suite and her contractor punctured a water line resulting in damages to 5 units, and an insurance deductible of $25,000; however, the strata council have paid the deductible out of the contingency fund and the newly elected strata council has discovered there was no effort to make the owner responsible as a result of her contractor causing the loss. This has raised a question we cannot find an answer. The Strata Property Act says the strata corporation may recover the deductible if the owner is responsible for the claim. So, we are a bit unclear on what “responsible” means, but more critically, how do strata councils apply this obligation to pay the deductible fairly against all owners, whether they are on council or not? Carla D.

Dear Carla: When there is a claim on the insurance policy of the strata corporation, the deductible portion is a common expense of the corporation. All owners pay either through the funds of the strata corporation from the contingency fund, operating fund or a special levy that may be issued by council as it does not require a 3/4 vote of the owners in this one circumstance. The requirement ensures the strata corporation repairs are conducted and the deductible is paid to the insurers. If an owner is responsible for the claim, the strata council then decides to send a notice of claim to the owner. In most situations the owner’s homer insurance provider will cover the cost of the deductible. The value of the deductible pressured by the recent dramatic increases in deductible rates, will often determine whether homeowners have sufficient insurance coverage or have purchased insurance, but that is purely for their protection, and has no affect whether they are responsible. If the owner refuses to pay the claim personally or through their insurance provider, the strata council then decides on a collection proceeding. An application to the Civil Resolution Tribunal is sufficient to obtain a decision ordering the payment of the deductible. The decision may then be registered against the strata lot until the owner pays or the strata corporation seeks an enforcement order for payment. This part of the process is generally handled by your lawyer acting for the strata corporation. The best method of evaluating responsibility, is in understanding your responsibilities as a strata lot owner for the maintenance and repairs of your strata lot, any of your appliances and fixtures in the strata lot, those services that are part of your strata lot and not common property, the actions of your occupants, tenants, guests and in this case, contractors hired by the owner. For example, except for your personal property and improvements to your strata lot, if a common property pipe or common property building system fails, the claim is a common expense of the corporation and an owner is not responsible for the deductible. The decision of a strata council to proceed with collection is in most cases a bylaw enforcement issue. Your strata corporation has a registered bylaw that clearly states if an owner is responsible for the claim the strata corporation must recover the amount of the deductible from the owner. Insurance bylaws are common, and I would recommend strata corporations consider bylaws to address damages and insurance deductibles. The clarity and authority defined in the bylaws sets a common standard for strata councils and provides authority and support when a strata corporation is making an application to the CRT or the courts to recover costs. Your strata council has not reviewed your bylaws and have not applied the bylaws fairly. A council member who has an incident that results in an insurance claim where they may be responsible for the deductible, must not participate in the bylaw enforcement process. They would have a direct interest in the outcome of the decision and be in conflict of interest.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Tenants Altering a Strata Lot

I own a townhouse unit in Surrey that I have been renting out for the past 15 years with a reliable tenant. I conducted routine inspections, and all seemed well until the tenant gave me notice 2 months ago. I did a final inspection to the unit and discovered the tenant had installed walls in the basement creating several rooms that do not meet code. Strangely enough the strata council had given the tenant permission to make the alterations. The removal of the walls and finishing is not a significant expense, but it raises an issue with our strata council and property manager. Is a tenant eligible to make improvements to a strata lot without the consent of the owner? The property manager told us this is common, but it seems unfair that a tenant can alter a strata lot without the consent of the owner? Danny R.

Dear Danny: Altering a strata lot or common property is a condition that is regulated under the Standard Bylaws of the Strata Property Act and any bylaw amendments properly adopted by your strata corporation. The Standard Bylaws and almost every other set of bylaw amendments I have seen, including yours, requires the written application by an owner of a strata lot for permission for alterations and the written approval of the strata corporation. There is no provision in the bylaws for a tenant to make an application as the owner has the interest in the strata lot and the strata council did not comply with the requirements of the bylaws to approve the request from the owner. I often see these types of errors occur simply because strata council members do not each have a set of the strata corporation bylaws and the bylaws are not reviewed at a council meeting prior to any decisions being made. Like any owner or tenants, strata councils have the same duty to comply with the provisions of the bylaws.
A variable that is often not acknowledged by strata councils and managers is the impact of the bylaws on non-residential/commercial strata lots. Owners who lease their units may have entered lease hold contracts that permit alterations or lease hold improvements by the tenants. This may have also granted the tenant the right to apply to the strata corporation for permission to alter the strata lot; however, the owner of the strata lot will always be liable for the actions and consequences of their tenants. The best practice whenever there is an application to alter a strata lot is first confirm the person you are dealing with is a registered owner. Family members are often assumed to be owners without verifying the title of the property. When you receive an application for an alteration that is from a tenant, whether residential or non-residential, confirm with the owner this application is endorsed or approved by the owner, and the owner has consented to the application. Copy all communications regarding an application for an alteration to the applicant and the owner of the strata lot. Require that any alteration agreements or conditions must be agreed to in writing by the owner, not the tenant. Follow your bylaws. If the bylaw requires an owner to make the application, insist on written confirmation by the owner and that they will be responsible for any cost relating to any part or condition of the alteration.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Is it an Operating or Reserve Allocation?

We live in the Okanagan and our strata corporation is located on a higher elevation. Naturally, we have snow frequently. Up until December of 2020, our strata corporation have contracted a snow removal service for our roads and walkways for owner safety and access. Our strata council, attempting to save money, decided to terminate the snow removal service and purchase a tractor with blower for $7,500 from our budget line item which is only identified as snow removal service contract. The owners did not have an opportunity to vote on this decision, and it is questionable by time we pay for additional operations costs this will ever save us any costs, and we will always be dependent on a council member or owner within our strata corporation to clear the snow. Is a strata council permitted to reallocate the funds approved by owner to other items or costs? Bill CT.

Dear Bill: The strata council is bound to the limitations of the approved budget. They do not have the authority to reallocate funds and would require a special general meeting and approval of the owners. The annual operating budget is for those events that occur at least once a year or more frequently. This includes utilities, insurance, maintenance costs, professional services, management services, scheduled inspection and maintenance of building components, security costs, and general operational costs. The definitions of the allocations are also critical in the annual budget, along with the frequency within the budget cycle. The contingency reserve fund is for those items that are expensed less than once a year and relate to depreciated items for major maintenance that occurs less than once a year or renewals and repairs that occur less than once per year. The exceptions to these expenses are emergencies and insurance deductibles which may be expended from either the operating fund or the contingency reserve fund. A principle of the Strata Property Act that is often misunderstood and confused is how the funds are expensed and approved when a corporation is conducting major purchases of assets. Whether it is a new snow blower, pool table for the rec room, newly installed exterior lighting systems, a new security locking system, additional security cameras, or lobby furniture, the Act requires a 3/4 vote for the purchase of any assets over $1,000, unless the bylaws have been amended. The purchase of the tractor is also an asset of the corporation and to be include in future depreciation reports. This is unlikely to occur if the amount is expended through the operating fund and not tracked as depreciated item on future reports. In a recent decision of the Civil Resolution Tribunal under strata plan EPS 2744, the strata corporation expended almost $4,000 from their operating budget on rekeying (sic) their common areas. While the security upgrade may have been necessary, the corporation had sufficient time to add this expense to a general meeting agenda and it was deemed not to be part of the operating budget as an annual expense. The strata corporation have been ordered to hold a General Meeting to approve this expense from the contingency fund by 3/4 vote.
While everyone can appreciate the attempt to provide increased service and reduced costs for the owners, the introduction of the tractor and snow blower now requires a storage area, has increased liability for the strata corporation, and will require a resident or employee to safely operate the equipment and be available throughout the winter season. In the case of assets purchases over $1,000, always convene a general meeting for the owners’ approval before you buy.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

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Year End Financial Report

How do we get the year end financial report from our strata corporation? Our fiscal year ends on October 31, and we normally have our general meeting in November to approve the budget for the next year. Our property manager told us with the extensions because of the emergency orders, the strata corporation has an additional 60 days to hold the annual meeting and to provide reports and information. One of the council members has indicated the strata council are significantly over budget for 2020, but no one will give us a copy of the financials and our meeting must be held by the end of February. Clarence W.

Dear Clarence: In May of 2020, the provincial cabinet approved a regulation under the Strata Property Act that extends the requirement for the period of general meetings to be held, by an additional 60 days, when a state of emergency for the province or a local region is declared. Even after our current state of emergency is cancelled, this Regulation will remain for any subsequent events as it automatically comes into effect when a state of emergency arises.

Regulation 17.23(1) In this section, “declaration of a state of emergency” and “declaration of a state of local emergency” have the same meaning as in section 1 (1) of the Emergency Program Act.(2) If a declaration of a state of emergency or a declaration of a state of local emergency is in effect where the land in a strata plan is located and at any time during the period of one month that ends on the last day on which a general meeting of the strata corporation must be held under any of the following provisions of the Act, the meeting may be held up to 2 months after the last day on which the meeting must be held under the provision:(a) section 16 (1) first annual general meeting to be held by owner developer;(b) section 40 (2) annual general meeting;(c) section 43 (3) special general meeting called by voters (by petition);(d) section 43 (3.1) special general meeting to consider winding-up resolution;(e) section 51 (6) [special general meeting to reconsider resolution passed by 3/4 vote];(f) section 159 (1) general meeting to decide not to repair or replace damaged property;(g) section 230 annual general meeting after deposit of subsequent phase.
The extension to hold meetings in prescribed time periods does not apply to the requirement to complete and provide documents such as financial reports or other provisions of the Act or Regulations. Within 8 weeks after the end of its fiscal year, the strata corporation must prepare a financial statement updated to the end of the fiscal year. This requirement was not altered by the emergency orders or regulations. The financial statement for the current and previous years is a document the strata corporation must maintain, and an owner is entitled to a copy of this document. It must be provided within 14 days of the request. The financial statement will also establish the balances for the annual tax return of each strata corporation. With so many orders and changes to notice periods, it is easy to understand how confusion was created around this document as it is connected to the financial reports and notices for annual general meetings. All recent changes to the legislation and emergency orders are posted to the CHOA web site under the Covid 19 banner. www.choa.bc.ca
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

Note from Terra Nova…..I envision some property managers reading this and scrambling to finally be compliant.

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Competitive Bidding

Our strata corporation has just approved $125,000 from our contingency fund for roofing replacement. We received estimates from only 1 company and several owners are concerned we have not detailed the project correctly and did not get at least 3 bids before proceeding. As independent corporations, are we required to obtain multiple bids or for any specific values? It would be a good consumer practice but there are not always more than 1 or two companies available on the Sunshine Coast. If 3 bids minimum were imposed, we would never likely be able to comply? JDR

Dear JDR: When it comes to how a strata corporation spends their money, the purchasing and financial practices of strata corporations are determined through the bylaws of a strata corporation and the wording of the resolutions the owners approve at general meetings. The Strata Property Act does not require or set a minimum number of bids or special procurements conditions. For an expense on a major project or an operating contract, the owners at a general meeting may direct or restrict the council by majority and give specific instructions on the methods or limitations for purchasing. In a normal sequence the strata council will establish the proposed resolution for the project, including the details of the project and the how the funds will be approved, either by approving reserve funds or a special levy. A meeting is then held where owners debate the resolutions and either approve or defeat the proposed projects. Many resolutions often fail due to lack of information or unknown purchasing procedures that are challenged by owners. This results in mistrust between strata councils and owners, and delays in projects that inevitably cost more for everyone. While the Act does not require any minimum purchasing requirements, it is everyone’s best interest to set specifications for projects and develop a bidding process on the specifications.
Multiple quotes for projects are helpful to set budgeting plans and targets for scheduling, but they are not comparable as they are established from the perspective of each of the companies providing the quotes. Major construction and renewals have many variables that affect pricing and contracting relationship. Consultants, technical writers and project managers routinely set the specifications for the scope of work and assist with the processing of tendering projects so ensure the client is provided with comparable bids that meet the minimum conditions of product and materials, methods and details of construction, insurance requirements, site conditions, warranties, access to the property, environmental conditions, and any other contractual conditions a strata council negotiates. Depending on the value of construction or the risks associated with the project, a legal review of the bidding process and the contract conditions and terms is highly recommended. For a small investment, usually below $2,500 you can avoid a number of disputes that originate from a lack of a written agreement or failure to detail the conditions of the contract. Remember your objective as the client and owners. The best pricing for the best products, terms and conditions. The solution is competition and detailed written agreements. Even if you can only obtain a single quote, it is in your best interest to have the terms and conditions in a detailed written agreement. A contractor that is unwilling to enter into a written agreement is unlikely to act with integrity. Whether it is a $5,000 contract to replace gutters or $125,000 roofing project, a written agreement is essential to protect your interests. With or without consulting or legal services, confirm all details in writing before you proceed with your projects.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA

A Note from the President of Terra Nova Landscaping ” a handshake or gentleman’s agreement, isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on. Always use a detailed written agreement.”

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