Important Terms All Strata Council Members Should Know

Posted on Tuesday June 10, 2014 |

You have just been appointed to your Strata Council. Now it’s time to brush up on your vocabulary with terms that are going to be a part of your new life as a Council Member.
 
There is a lot to remember, but this doesn’t have to be daunting. Making a list with terms and meanings, and going over them regularly, is a good way to keep these items fresh in your mind. As you progress in your tenure as a Council Member, these terms will become second nature. Below, you will find some important items to add to your vernacular, brought to you by FirstService Residential, the industry leader in residential property management. Another good idea would be to talk with your property management company to find out if there are other specific terms that apply directly to your role in the community.
 
Articles of Incorporation: This is the legal document that establishes your Strata Corporation and is filed by the developer prior to occupancy. Stratas are run based on the corporation concept. The articles address items such as bringing the corporation into existence under the Strata Property Act; defining purpose and powers; and indicating the structure of a Strata Council.
 
Bylaws: These are formal regulations that guide Owners in a Strata community. Some examples of items that could be addressed under bylaws include rules for conducting meetings, voting rights, quorum requirements, Strata Council responsibilities, and general powers of the Council.
 
Strata Fees: These are paid by Owners on a monthly basis to cover services such as landscape maintenance, cleaning, amenities such as swimming pool and gym, garbage collection, concierge services, insurance, and other essential items related to common elements of your property.
 
Strata or Property Manager: This is the representative responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of your community, who is typically hired and approved by your Strata Council. This person helps enforce bylaws passed by the Ownership, administers any Council-approved policies and guidelines, and helps with other matters such as fiscal items, building and grounds maintenance, and administrative or clerical duties.
 
Disclosure Statement: This document is prepared by the developer before the construction of your Strata and outlines the Ownership rights and limitations that apply to all Owners of a Strata. The Disclosure Statement will:

  • Address what property (including common element percentage) is owned by the individual and what is owned by the Strata Corporation at large;
  • Create a relationship among all Owners to each other and the community for maintaining, funding, and governing the Strata;
  • Set bylaws and rules based on architectural control and other activities to promote communal harmony;
  • Create administrative framework; and
  • Provide transition of control of the Strata Corporation from the developer to the property Owners.
 Hierarchy of Authority: This concept can vary from community to community. Generally, this entails all governing documents used by the Strata Corporation including:
  • Strata Plan
  • Disclosure Statement
  • Article of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Rules and regulations
  • And any other items necessary to the Strata
Local Laws and Regulations: Your community is situated in a municipality that has its own set of codes, bylaws, taxes, and services. These entities could affect your Strata’s annual budget and be incorporated into Strata fees. Some examples are local fire codes may require sprinkler systems, exit signs, or fire extinguishers in units or buildings. Swimming pools may be subjected to water tests. There also may be taxes that apply to Residents. Check with your local government office, or contact your property management company to see if any of these affect your community.
 
Strata Plan: This document is filed with the BC Land Title Office and shows the layout of the Strata property. This plan shows the precise location of all lots before they are sold, as well as any common areas. This document helps identify any Owner’s or community’s title to the property, as well as determines who is responsible for maintaining property, and whether a piece of property is properly located.
 
Bylaw Amendments: These are adopted by the Ownership during a ¾ vote at a general meeting. Bylaw amendments make changes to the existing bylaws filed by the developer to reflect the individual needs of your Strata. There are various types of common amendments including:
    •       Policy: These amendments affect Owners’ rights and regulations and address items
            including common areas, architectural provisions, and enforcement procedures.
    •       Administration: These address internal workings of the community including
            operations, collections, and formation of a Strata Council, etc.
    •       Special: These are amendments made by Council Members that apply to a particular situation including a bylaw violation or required approval for commencing a lawsuit.
    •       General: These outline routine, ordinary events on a community’s calendar such as
            budgets or approval of contracts.
 
For more information on how to be the best board member you can be, contact FirstService Residential today.

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