Roles and Duties of Strata Councils vs. Property Management Companies
Some of the most common problems in a community happen due to poor communication between residents and Strata Councils, originating from a difference in expectations and a lack of education on the roles and duties of Strata Councils and their property management companies.
It is vital that everyone in the community understands the role that Strata Councils play and how a strata manager can help them and the Strata Corporation to fulfil their duties.
At Tribe, we're on a mission to empower and educate residents and councils to understand where these roles and responsibilities lie so that we can all work together and have an efficient and healthy relationship which will benefit the entire community.
Table of Contents
- Relationship expectations
- What are the roles and duties of a Strata Council?
- What are the roles and duties of a property management company?
- What is the main difference in responsibilities between Strata Councils and Property Management companies?
- What Can't a Strata Manager do?
- Proper communication with your Strata Manager
Property Management companies provide a business service while caring for your home. Like in any other long-lasting relationship, there should be clear boundaries, understanding, and respect to make it work.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced a new balance of community, As it has become both a home and a place for work for a lot of residents. This influx of people being “present” in the building has resulted in an increase in issues, unexpected emergencies, and the need for more communication. The Community (Strata) Manager has shouldered most of that burden with an increased workload.
We continue to see an overwhelming number of managers across the industry "burning out". This is simply not sustainable, and we are working with our industry counterparts and regulatory bodies to find creative ways to tackle these challenges.
In the meantime, to help address demands and support our employees' overall well-being while providing quality service, we have rolled out a new Flex Friday Work Week to allow Managers a day to complete critical tasks and projects without interruption.
So far, we're delighted with the overwhelming support for this initiative from our clients and staff, as it has helped ensure directives are being completed in a timely manner. We'll continue to look for ways to improve our employees' and customers' experience.
What Are The Roles and Duties of a Strata Council?
Strata Councils' primary role is to ensure the Strata Corporation is managed as required under the Strata Property Act and Agency Agreement. All members are volunteers and elected by a majority of owners.
Note: A Strata Corporation is the legal term for strata. A strata is created when a developer registers it with the Land Title Office and receives a strata plan such as “LMS1234” or “EPS1234”.
Council Member's duties will include attending meetings to perform their primary duties, such as:
- Review financial statements;
- Approve maintenance proposals;
- Go through insurance documents;
- Enforce bylaws and rules;
- Collect strata fees;
- Call and conduct AGMs and SGMs;
- Hire and manage employees of the Strata Corporation and vendors;
- And much more.
While council members have been appointed to make decisions, many decisions for the Strata Corporation, such as approving bylaws and special levies, will still need to be approved by a vote of a majority or ¾ of owners during an annual or special meeting in order to move them forward.
Many Strata Corporations choose to hire a Property Management company to help them with the community's daily operations, including financial management, bylaw enforcement, and compliance with the Strata Property Act. (In BC, all councils and corporations must follow the Strata Property Act.)
To learn more about what a Strata Council does and understand the roles and responsibilities of each of its members, don't miss our Strata Council's guide to success [Strata 101 Series].
What are the Roles and Duties of a Property Management Company?
Often a property management company or a licensed Strata Manager is hired to work with the Strata Council to facilitate the decisions of the Strata Council and provide valuable advice and insights.
Despite this, the Strata Council is still ultimately responsible for making decisions, providing directions, and ensuring that the Strata Corporation acts under the Strata Property Act guidelines.
Strata Managers have a wealth of knowledge and experience and ensure that the corporation is in a healthy financial position, providing transparency and ensuring that communication flows between council members and residents. In BC, strata managers must be licensed under the Real Estate Services Act (RESA) authority and rules.
Some of the duties of a Strata Manager include:
- Prepare for and conduct council meetings;
- Provide recommendations and insight on quotes or projects;
- Follow through with the decisions (directives) made by the Strata Council during meetings;
- Hire and oversee employees (security personnel, concierge, etc.) and vendors for maintenance work and other services;
- Prepare and review financial statements and budgets;
- Collect strata fees and levies;
- Prepare and facilitate special meetings such as AGMs and SGMs;
- Work with the Strata Corporation and Insurer to ensure the Strata has adequate insurance;
- Keeping records as required under the Strata Property Act;
- Support during and after emergencies;
- And more.
It is important to note that while the council is ultimately the decision-maker, they can delegate the manager to approve invoices and other duties under certain conditions and monetary limits without further needing the member's approval. This will need to be clearly stated on the management contract or in writing after the fact.
Finally, one of the essential duties of strata managers is to communicate and help mediate any disputes with owners and tenants on issues affecting the property and support the council in maintaining good relationships with everyone in the community.
What are the Main Differences in Responsibilities Between Strata Councils and Property Management Companies?
Put simply, strata managers (or as we call them at Tribe, Community Managers) act as trusted advisors to the Strata Council and the Strata Corporation. The Strata Manager's job is to help with day-to-day common issues Strata Councils face. But ultimately, decision-making relies upon the council.
Managers provide industry best practices, speak about prior experiences and share the ins and outs of running a thriving community to help the Strata Council members and owners make the best decisions for the community.
It is crucial that everyone in a community knows and understands the roles and responsibilities of those who support it. A lack of knowledge can create issues over time.
Important note: It's a common misconception that the Property Management company can raise a community's strata fees. These and other important decisions are agreed upon by the Strata Council and approved at the AGM by a majority of owners.
What CAN'T a Strata Manager Do?
Even with our most seasoned councils, it's often common to have to clarify what a manager can't do. As mentioned before, we're committed to educating everyone to set them up for success. Here are a few common examples:
1. A Strata Manager Cannot Send Bylaw Fine Letters Without Specific Direction From The Council.
To comply and enforce such things as violation letters, we need to have specific instructions from the council every time a decision is made. Otherwise, it's not legally binding.
Did you know? - To address requirements around decision-making, we've rolled out Tribe Home's Council Voting feature. Council Voting provides a digital solution for members to vote online on important issues in between meetings, speeding up the decision-making process, with the ability for Council Members and Managers to pull reporting (Council Voting minutes) and notifications and clearly communicate one final clear resolution.
2. A Strata Manager Cannot Provide Legal Advice.
One typical example is creating bylaws, which fall under this category of providing legal advice that is prohibited under a manager's license. However, a Strata Manager can provide examples which can be helpful resources for Council Members.
3. A Strata Manager Cannot Make Decisions on Behalf of The Council.
This is an important one. There is a common misconception that managers make decisions. However, as mentioned earlier, they cannot make decisions without specific direction from the Strata Council, unless this is set up beforehand in writing.
Proper Communication With Your Strata Manager
It is crucial that Council communicates with its Strata Manager efficiently, in order to build a successful relationship.
It is also important to note, that at Tribe, we have expectations around employee, client and community behaviour, right down to the Community Guidelines we post in our Tribe Home platform. We do not tolerate abuse towards our staff, just as we do not tolerate that of our clients. clients.
We want to share some tips we've learned here at Tribe, based on years of experience with hundreds of communities across Canada.
Involve Your Strata Manager When You Are Ready To Provide Direction.
It may not be intuitive, but we ask that you do not copy your manager in conversations with other council members and residents until you are ready to provide direction (make a decision).
Why? This will reduce the number of messages your manager has to go through to verify decisions and clearly spot actions required.
Keep Your Comments Professional and Clean of Personal Remarks
Section 35 (Strata Corporation records) and section 36 (access to records) of the Strata Property Act clearly state that Property Management companies must provide legal documents (minutes, emails, etc.) to an owner or other authorized party upon request.
Why? This help to protect you against liabilities that may arise because of litigation.
Reduce Non-Urgent Communication
As mentioned earlier, the demands on Strata Managers continue to grow, as our community environments change. If a request or question is not urgent, try to compile them for when you have your upcoming meeting or designate one person in your council to deal with a specific area (financials, maintenance, etc.
By reducing the email volume that your manager gets, you can help speed up communication and get things done faster and more efficiently.
Not only do Community Managers receive communications from councils, but they also receive frequent requests and complaints from owners and residents through numerous channels.
At Tribe, one way to deal with this is by using the Help Desk in Tribe Home, our community management and communication tool, so that residents can submit requests for help, report issues about their community, and find commonly asked questions and answers. This ensures that nothing gets lost and tickets are actioned.
Like in any successful, long-lasting relationship, there should be clear boundaries, understanding, and respect between Strata councils and Property Management companies.
The strata council's primary role is to ensure the Strata Corporation is managed as required under the Strata Property Act and Agency Agreement.
Because of this, they often hire a Property Management company or a licensed Strata Manager to help with the community's daily operations, including financial management, bylaw enforcement, and compliance with the Strata Property Act.
Despite this, the Strata Council is ultimately responsible for making decisions, providing directions, and ensuring that the Strata Corporation acts under the Strata Property Act guidelines.
It is crucial that everyone in a community knows and understands the roles and responsibilities of those who support it. A lack of knowledge can create issues over time. There are things that a Strata Manager cannot do, including providing legal advice and, in most cases making decisions on behalf of the council.