Dear Tony: Our strata corporation proposed a new bylaw at our recent annual meeting that will permit other classes of people to be elected to the strata council.
It does not define what this means, and at our information meeting, the council basically suggested it could be any type of person who might fill our needs, such as an accountant, an engineer or realtor that would be working with us on projects.
Our manager has advised that this is a common bylaw being adopted by strata corporations. Is this correct?
As owners who pay the cost of the operations of our strata corporation, we need to know how these classes of people would be elected and how they could contribute to our operations for special projects and avoid being in a conflict of interest if they also provide professional services.
Our owners ultimately defeated the proposed bylaw, pending better definitions of who these people are who could be elected and under what circumstances.
Ian & Margo H., Kelowna
A small number of strata corporations have adopted bylaws that permit other classes of individuals to be elected to council. However, the implications of such a bylaw need to be clearly understood, as certain classes of people may have no interest in a strata lot or the consequences associated with their appointments.
The provisions of the Strata Property Act automatically qualify an owner who is registered on title, a tenant who has been granted the owner’s rights and a corporate representative of a strata lot registered to a company to be elected or appointed to council.
All have some sort of interest or connection to the owner of the strata lots. This includes both residential and commercial/non-residential strata lots.
Bringing onto the strata council other classes of individuals who are not defined and may have no interest except their personal benefits could place your strata corporation in a precarious position. There may also be limitations on directors’ and officers’ liability insurance coverage if your strata corporation has a significant exposure to liability, or the appointees have a criminal record or history of litigation.
While other classes of individuals may not be appropriate for some types of strata corporations, it may be an ideal solution for other types of operations that require a much higher level of activity and involvement beyond the normal scope of a volunteer.
An amendment we encounter is one that allows to be on council a spouse of an owner who is not on title, or a family member with the written consent of an owner.
For a variety of taxation or professional reasons, not all spouses are registered on title, and family members in retirement communities may be helpful in filling in the additional spaces often vacant on strata councils.
These individuals may bring a higher level of professional support to the strata council. However, strata corporations should avoid electing or appointing individuals if the candidate or their companies are providing any type of professional or compensated services to the strata corporation. If you need to evaluate whether there could be a conflict of interest, there probably is one.
It is critical that your owners retain control of your strata corporation. Consider a bylaw that clearly defines who the other classes of individuals on council may be and puts a limit on their numbers, ensuring the majority of council members are still owners, assigned tenants or corporate representatives.
Consult a lawyer experienced in strata legislation to develop the bylaw for your consideration and don’t pirate bylaws from another strata corporation. What works for them may create a significant liability for your community.
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association
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