Strata Committees 101: Different Committees and Their Responsibilities
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“Success by committee” is a common expression, but do you know how committees help strata councils achieve success? Strata committees are integral in assisting councils with everything from operations to finance, and they can help councils by taking on tasks and freeing up members’ time. Committees make significant improvements, helping the community thrive. Let’s explore the ins and outs of strata committees, how they are formed, what type of community business they handle and examples of strata committees.
While some council members are elected to their roles with the professional knowledge and/or previous strata council experience they need to perform successfully, others have little or no knowledge or training in strata corporation governance. But no matter their prior experience, they must juggle their strata council responsibilities with obligations to their families, jobs, hobbies, civic involvement and other personal interests and responsibilities.
Strata corporations hire property management companies to handle all of their community’s day-to-day operations and management responsibilities, under their direction. When communities are professionally managed, council members still play a role in dealing with ongoing community issues that need to be addressed, as well as one-off issues that arise throughout the year. That’s where advisory committees come in – helping council members by providing a good perspective and understanding of the topic at hand.
In addition to providing valuable assistance to the strata council, committees also involve more shareholders with personal experience in the governance process, resulting in a stronger, more involved community. As a bonus, they provide committee members with valuable strata corporation governance, making them a hands-on training ground for new community leaders. Not to mention, more residents are able to get involved in their community and make a positive difference that all residents can benefit from.
Effective committees can be your community’s lifeline, so if you need a helping hand, consult with a seasoned council member or a good property management company for guidance. We’ve also put together some basic facts and guidelines on committees to help. Ready to position your council for success by committee? Read on…
What are Strata Committees, and What Do They Do?
Strata committees assist council members by addressing specific community issues and tasks while serving in an advisory role for the benefit of the community. They gather information, assess problems, and recommend solutions to the council. What types of committees work with strata councils?
Depending on the community, committees may be formed that deal with:
Repair and maintenance
Buildings and grounds
What are the Different Types of Strata Committees?
Generally, strata corporations create two types of committees; standing and ad hoc. Standing committees are permanent committees that meet regularly to handle ongoing tasks such as finance or landscaping. Ad hoc committees are short-term, temporary committees formed to handle specific tasks, like developing a new operating plan, amending the strata corporation’s bylaws, or solving issues impacting the community and residents.
How is a Strata Committee Formed?
Most strata corporation’s bylaws allow for committees to be formed. The bylaws may also authorize the council to decide on the qualifications for members, member selection, removal process and committee size.
What is the Ideal Committee Size?
Committees can range from one individual to whatever number of members the strata council deems acceptable. But size does matter. Committees can become hard to manage if there are too many participants involved. Typically, strata committees range from one to five members and average somewhere in the middle, depending on the task.
What is the Proper Committee Structure?
How should your strata council organize its committees? There is no set standard, but committees are most effective when they fit the needs of the strata corporation and community. It’s also important they are aligned to council members’ strategic priorities. But no matter how they’re set up, every committee needs a mission, a strong leader, a sound plan and a clear statement of goals and responsibilities.
The Importance of Creating a Committee Charter
Once your strata council forms a committee, it should create a committee charter – a written document that defines its duties and responsibilities – and those of its members. The charter also establishes the relationship between the council and the committee. It spells out the committee’s limitations – such as what expenses it can accrue and which actions it can take. But it’s a good idea for the strata council to not be overly restrictive – you don’t want to thwart your committee from achieving its goals. But it’s worth repeating that committees are primarily in place to provide council members with additional perspective.
Strata Corporations Benefit from Well Organized Committees
There are numerous benefits to strata corporations that have well organized committees, but there are three main benefits:
Most strata councils don’t have term limits, which means a council can consist of the same members for any length of time. Having committees made up of other community members brings a fresh perspective to the council and new ideas the council may not have thought of before.
Many community members want to be involved and have a positive impact in the place they live but most don’t have the time to dedicate to being a council member. Committees are a great way for more residents to get involved with less of a time commitment.
Acts as a Check on the Strata Council
Checks and balances are important in any government or organization and that includes strata corporations. The committees act as a check on the council by reviewing facts, making recommendations and assessing solutions separately from the council.
Many tasks and responsibilities go into effective strata management, but strata council members don’t have to go it alone. When committee members work in tandem with council members to shoulder some of the duties, they help strengthen the strata corporation and the community, which is a win-win for everyone.
For more information about committees – and how they can help council members perform more effectively – contact FirstService Residential.