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Critical Mistakes Your Strata Council Can't Afford to Make

Anyone who’s ever served as a member of their Stata Corporation’s respective Strata Council knows that it’s not a walk in the park. Sometimes, it can feel more like navigating a park filled with unattended wasp nests, various bylaw infractions and hundred-page-long depreciation reports.

Volunteering to contribute your time and energy as a Strata Council member is a commendable endeavour. However, just because your Strata Council has the best of intentions, doesn’t always mean that you’re immune to mistakes, errors and pitfalls.

With years of industry experience, our team at Tribe has identified and corrected numerous Strata Council mistakes when onboarding new buildings. We're committed to educating and empowering Councils to avoid these pitfalls and succeed in their roles. So, what critical mistakes can your Strata Council not afford to make – and what can be done to fix them if they happen? 

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Mistake #1: Not fully understanding the Strata Property Act   

The Strata Property Act, which first came into action in 1998, is the cornerstone of all strata activity in British Columbia. Understanding and properly executing this legislation is crucial for Strata Councils. However, many councils struggle with this. Lana, one of our experienced Strata Managers, shares her insights: 

“I’ve often had to guide Councils that are trying to enforce bylaws or fines for infractions that the Strata Corporation doesn’t have a bylaw in place. They get frustrated when I tell them they can’t enforce a fine unless allowed under the Strata Property Act or their bylaws. I work with my Councils and encourage them to understand their bylaws or lack of, and that they’re governed by the SPA which is a legal entity that we must follow.”

This kind of mistake can have real implications for any Strata Council: in June 2024, the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal penalized a Strata Council in Burnaby for trying to enforce fines for bylaws that didn’t even exist during the time of an alleged infraction. 

While the Strata Council's best practices to avoid this mistake may seem self-explanatory, we know that’s easier said than done. Reading your bylaws and understanding the fundamentals of the Strata Property Act can be challenging. With complex jargon and lengthy documentation, it can feel daunting for a volunteer Strata Council member to sift through all this material.

At Tribe, our licensed community managers take regular legal updates both through the industry as well as weekly internal manager meetings to ensure that we are updated on any changes to the Strata Property Act as well as other legal mandates Strata Corporations must follow. This is a huge benefit of working with great licensed Community Managers as they can help the Council understand where their authority starts and stops in their community.

To recap, our best advice to the council as well as all Owners is to take it one step at a time: build your fundamental knowledge of Strata Bylaws first and grow your knowledge from there. 

Lightbulb_RGB_Digital (2)Tip: All Residents in Tribe-managed communities have 24/7, easy-access important documents (like their Bylaws, policies and rules) with a simple tap. All documents are securely stored, ensuring they’re safe and always available Tribe Home Community Platform. In addition to desktop, the Tribe Home app is available on both Android and Apple platforms.

Note that when your community partners with a licensed Property Manager, they can provide guidance on Corporation documents including when best to seek the advice of a lawyer. 

Mistake #2: Coming unprepared to Council Meetings   

Another common Strata Council mistake? Not coming prepared to your Council meetings. Whether it’s a scheduled meeting with your designated Strata Manager or an informal internal meeting, these are meant to foster meaningful dialogue that will lead to key decision-making and action items. It is not the time to read the meeting agenda for the very first time.   

One of our experienced Strata Managers, Melvin, has repeatedly witnessed this issue: 

“Common mistakes made by the Council include not reading the agenda, coming unprepared for meetings and failing to prioritize directives and focus on the most relevant topics.”  

There’s no shortcut to avoid this critical Strata Council error; the solution is simple: come prepared. This takes time, focus and energy - we know. Reading a meeting agenda may not be as exciting as the latest New York Times bestselling novel.

Focus on the key components of the agenda and prioritize accordingly. If winter is approaching, for instance, the snow removal quote is more important at that moment than the spring bike audit.   

Another option? Consider assigning designated committee members within your Council to help divide up the work: one member could be responsible for mechanical issues, one for landscaping, and so on.

Councils should decide how far in advance the meeting agenda is to be circulated so that everyone is informed and prepared. If you have a Community Manager, coordinate with them to determine a fitting timeline. Finally, keep in mind that if your manager is awaiting documents from contractors or other parties involved, you may not always have a complete agenda beforehand.

Mistake #3: Being reactive, not proactive   

"Unfortunately, when some Strata Councils are asked how their day is going, they respond with "You know, we just put out fires...". This is a consequence of a reactive approach, which can lead to more significant issues down the line. By adopting a proactive approach and, in most cases, working with an experienced manager, these challenges can be effectively managed and even prevented. 

Running a Strata Corporation can feel like you’re a juggler with far too many balls than you can manage. How do you decide which ones to catch first?   

One of our experienced Strata Managers, Michella, who’s been with Tribe since 2022, and licensed for over 8 years, has seen the impact of this reactive approach: 

“It ends up costing Strata Corporations a lot of extra money, rather than putting in the time upfront to investigate where possible, they wind up cleaning up a mess. However, the other flip side of that is overkill or taking too long to make decisions.”  

So how does a Strata Council shift their thinking from being ‘reactive’ to being ‘proactive’? It’s all about looking ahead. Depreciation reports can serve as a valuable resource and potential road map into future capital improvement projects, such as re-piping, window replacements and exterior painting.   

Regularly engaging with the community, through action items such as surveys and town halls, can also help ensure that your Strata Council is attuned to the Strata Corporation’s needs – both current and future.  

Strata Council - The Guide to Success

Mistake #4: Not Trusting Each Other   

What might some consider the most dangerous of the Strata governance pitfalls? Lack of trust amongst your fellow Council members. This issue can severely undermine the functionality of the Council. Michella, one of our experienced Strata Managers explains: 

“Councils begin to develop trust issues, for various reasons: misinformation within the industry, personal issues, differing priorities and agendas, and so on. This lack of trust ultimately erodes Council relationships amongst not only each other but with the Owners, their manager and various trades and contractors employed by the Strata Corporation.” 

Distrust can lead to serious consequences for Strata Corporations, such as poor record keeping, secrecy, and lack of transparency. It can also result in the disclosure of confidential or sensitive information and, perhaps worst of all, a dysfunctional Strata Council where members act on personal agendas and fail to meet regularly. 

The best way to combat this problem?  

Good ole' fashioned communication. A successful strata council prioritizes strong and effective communication skills, continuously makes efforts to listen to each other and is always transparent.   

It’s also vital to bring empathy to the table. Councils who seek to understand each other better - their opinions, perspectives, motivations and strengths – will be better positioned to work effectively with each other.

You might not always agree with each other’s votes at a Council Meeting. If a Council majority votes in one way, respect it and stand with the decision. Upholding the integrity of the democratic process can go a long way.

At the end of the day, it can save all the owners significant money to fix a minor problem before it becomes a major one. If you have a large repair coming up talk to your Community Manager about scheduling a town hall with the contractor or engineer to go over the project. This way everyone understands the need to go forward, why it costs what it does, and the consequences of putting it off for longer.


Mistakes happen. But no fear – mistakes can also serve as learning opportunities. At Tribe, we’re here to help Strata Corporation members not just succeed but excel in their roles.   

But at the end of the day, that walk in the park is still filled with unattended wasp nests, various bylaw infractions and hundred-page-long depreciation reports. Working with a professional Property Management company is akin to finding a competent Park Ranger: a licensed Strata Manager has the skills, resources and experience required to protect both your picnic baskets and Strata Corporation. 

Strata Council - The Guide To Success 

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