The Essential Five People On Your Strata Council
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Getting to Know a Strata Council’s Five Fundamental Roles
There are five fundamental strata council roles that need to be filled to succeed. A strata community needs a dedicated council that understands their roles and responsibilities and is committed to fair representation of the residents they are elected to serve. Made up of volunteers, the members of the council share a common interest, the place they call home, and they want to ensure their community is always at its best, and any issues that arise are addressed.
The volunteer strata council must approach the operation of their strata corporation as a business. It is their responsibility to protect all the owners' investments and interests. Tasks include maintaining the common property, managing the finances, and creating policies that promote harmony between people living in a multi-family environment – perhaps for the first time.
To make this happen, the council must meet regularly to set goals, interpret and administer the bylaws and make decisions on behalf of their community. Effective strata councils are those whose members respect each other and work together with a spirit of cooperation.
Strata Council Responsibilities
Council members need to understand their roles. While there can be several areas of responsibility for councils, such as parking control, architectural considerations, and common area maintenance, there are five fundamental positions that every strata council needs to fill.
Being part of a strata council can be a very enriching experience. Regardless of your role, you get to be an active member of your community and help bring positive change that impacts you, your home, and your fellow residents.
Each of the five fundamental roles on a council requires a particular skillset and has different responsibilities. So, which is the right position for you? Let's take a closer look at each strata council role.
The council president is responsible for the successful operation of the community. They set the agenda, chair the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and council meetings, maintain order, and keep the discussion on topic. The president is responsible for the daily execution of the corporation's business and is the primary council contact for the strata manager.
The person that takes on the role of president needs to be a strong communicator that is not afraid to delegate tasks and mediate when disagreements among other council members may arise. The president will be working closely with various people and different personalities, so they need to be a team player who has good leadership skills and is also approachable, fair, and open.
Of course, the vice president is the president's right-hand person and takes over the president's duties in their absence. To help lighten the president's load, the vice president will take on additional responsibilities and tasks as needed.
Because they can be working on multiple projects at any given time, the person that serves as vice president of the strata council needs to be organized and comfortable with being flexible. Being a good multitasker would also be an asset.
Minutes of a strata corporation are a key takeaway from meetings as they are public documents. The secretary's job is to accurately record the proceedings of council meetings in minutes and distribute them to the council for approval. Once approved, the management company makes them available to those who need them for real estate transactions, mortgages, insurance, and legal purposes.
The most important quality a secretary should have is being a great listener. However, being organized and responsible are equally beneficial.
The financial health of a strata corporation is important to all owners. No one wants to see the monthly contributions increase due to mismanagement of the funds. The treasurer is the council member most involved with preparing the budget draft, which is reviewed, adjusted, and approved by the strata council. Then it is the treasurer who closely monitors the monthly financial reports provided by the management company and ensures the expenditures align with the budgeted amounts. Realistic budgets and fiscal management are imperative.
The person who takes on the treasurer role needs to be detail-oriented and organized. An interest in finance or even some experience with financials would be a nice bonus, but it is not a requirement.
Contracting a reputable, experienced management company dramatically reduces the strata council's workload. The strata manager is the council's link to the management company. They attend council meetings and act as a resource to the council as they set policies, determine maintenance requirements, and manage the common property in compliance with the bylaws. The strata manager implements the decisions of the strata council, supported by an administrative team that includes an administrator, accountant, and full-service office.
There are several things you should consider when hiring a strata manager. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you as a council understand your community's needs so they can clearly articulate them to the strata manager. A council and strata manager who share common goals and agree with the community's needs will foster the right kind of relationship to get things done successfully.
One Size Does Not Always Fit All
Of course, there may be other areas of strata council responsibility depending upon the community, but these are the essential five positions on a typical council. In addition to these, there may be a need to monitor parking or pets, prepare newsletters or supervise maintenance or landscaping contractors. A clear understanding of the roles will contribute to well-functioning leadership for the corporation.
Elected strata council members will have a variety of skill sets and experience as volunteers. A partnership with a strong management company will provide the guidance and knowledge to support the council as they fulfill their duties.
For more information on how the right strata management company can bring out the best of your Council, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading strata management company.