Condo Smarts: Accurate owners’ list might have prevented strata conflict

Dear Tony: Our strata corporation has 158 residential units and at our recent annual general meeting, we had complaints from 10 owners that they had not received the notice package.

Luckily, a council member posted a reminder in the elevators a week before, so they showed up at the meeting.

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After the meeting, we had emails from seven other owners claiming they did not receive the notice package, and as landlords, should have had the notice package sent to the alternate address they provided for meeting notices and correspondence.

When council double-checked, we discovered the addresses on file were many years out of date. Several changes in management companies had meant that the lists of addresses passed on had become less reliable.

We only had 42 votes represented at the meeting, so did not meet the quorum minimum, but our bylaws declare that a meeting is called to order within a half hour by those who are present, in person or by proxy.

The problem is, we voted on two contentious bylaws and a special levy and now several owners are challenging the validity of the meeting.

How do we determine if our owners’ list is accurate?

V.A. Lee, Richmond

Owners’ lists, notice/mailing lists and schedules of unit entitlement and voting entitlement must be accurate if the strata corporation intends on conducting business in a fair manner, and to comply with the legislation and avoid complaints or actions in the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) or the courts.

While there may be ownership changes resulting in unintended occasional inaccuracies, 17 incorrect addresses indicates a serious problem with your records.

Provided that a strata corporation has not removed or altered Standard Bylaw 4 — inform the strata corporation of ownership or tenancy changes — an owner must give notice to the strata corporation within two weeks of becoming an owner and inform the strata corporation of their name, strata lot number and any mailing address outside the strata corporation.

The same conditions apply in the circumstance of a tenancy, requiring the strata lot owner to provide a signed Form K, Notice of Tenant’s responsibilities, within two weeks of renting all or part of a residential strata lot.

If owner/landlords want to receive notice at a separate address or supply an email address for the purpose of receiving notices, they must provide that information to the strata corporation, as well.

Failure to issue proper notice could result in your motions being overturned or an order for another meeting — a potentially costly mistake for your strata.

Start with a complete review of your owners’ list and inform your owners of the necessity to update the owners’ list for accuracy. Review copies of any Form Ks that have been provided to the strata corporation for tenancies, and copies of any Form Cs, Mortgagee’s Requests for Notification.

Incorrect owner lists can also result in ineligible persons being elected to council, votes being cast by ineligible voters at general meetings, or a failure of the strata corporation to provide proper notice to an owner prior to enforcing bylaws, filing liens for collections or issuing notice of court or CRT disputes, or notice of any general meetings that might have a serious impact on your decisions.

I know from recent experience that prior to issuing a notice for a special general meeting for a strata corporation to proceed with an 80 per cent vote to wind up the strata corporation, it is mandatory that the owners’ list is accurate.

An owner who is not represented in person or by proxy for 80 per cent and 100 per cent votes is automatically a no vote.

Most important, how do you verify the owner or eligible voter if the owners’ list is not accurate?

This might be a prudent time to conduct title searches on all strata lots to ensure accurate information is maintained by the strata corporation.

In light of the many property-management changes in your strata corporation, obtain official documents representing owners’ lists and notification requirements, the registered strata plan, the schedules of voting entitlement and unit entitlement.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association.

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