Condo Smarts: Owner uses proxies to block spending for townhouse repairs

Dear Tony: Our strata corporation is made up of 78 apartments and 16 townhouse units. We are all one strata corporation.

Every year when we vote on repairs and maintenance, there is an owner in the apartment building who collects proxies and votes against any townhouse maintenance and supports all the apartment maintenance.

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In the last five years, nothing has been done to the townhouses and the townhouse owners are fed up. Is there any way we can resolve this problem or limit the number of proxies a person can hold? Is there some way to lobby government to limit the number?

Jim S., Surrey

Since 2013, the B.C. Law Institute has hosted a research project focused on reforming the Strata Property Act. A committee of volunteers oversaw research from the real estate industry, lawyers, land titles, consumers and government.

After a period of extensive meetings, research and discussions, a consultation paper was issued for public review.

One of the public reviews addressed governance for strata corporations. There was a discussion about proxies and possible limits to proxies.

While the proxies issue was debated, there are significant limitations to the legislation, as the proxy is not an instrument issued by the corporation, but by each owner.

There are many complications that would make it difficult for the strata corporation to impose a limit on proxies, as it would end up violating owners’ voting rights without the knowledge of the owner.

Unrestricted proxies are important, because they protect the voting rights of owners. Unfortunately, there are individuals who abuse the power of proxies.

Owners who issue proxies need to remember one very important point. Your proxy assignment (the proxy holder) can vote at their discretion if a secret ballot is called, unless your proxy is specifically restricted.

As an owner, if you want to control the outcome, don’t issue a proxy. Show up at meetings and exercise your voting rights and obligations.

There are other options to consider. If the townhouse units are being neglected at the expense of the apartment units, townhouse owners can apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal to obtain a decision ordering the corporation to repair the common property, including the townhouse units.

Your strata corporation is not unusual when it comes to unfair repair and maintenance of common property. The tribunal has the authority to order a strata corporation to conduct repairs if it is acting unfairly or not complying with the Strata Property Act or bylaws of the corporation.

The B.C. Law Institute project has just posted its final report on Common Property, Land Titles, and Fundamental Changes for Stratas. Since 2013, there have been five reports published, 206 recommendations made to government and one report implemented to amend the Act for Terminating a Strata.

To read the final report go to bcli.org.

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

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