One of the most popular forms of property ownership in the marketplace today is strata titled property. To most, this means a condominium unit, townhouse, or 1/2 duplex. Strata property is a way of dividing up one large building (for example, a condominium complex) into individual titles (the units inside the building) so that they can be owned independently of one another. A strata unit typically consists of everything inside the exterior walls and dividing walls of a particular unit in a building. Also, each strata unit owner is allocated a proportional share (depending on unit size) of the common property of the development. Typically, this includes the exterior walls, roof, driveways, parking areas, amenities like swimming pools, etc. Everyone shares in the maintenance and repairs of these assets, coming out of funds raised by paying monthly strata fees.
Every strata council is different. Some are very strict, some are very relaxed. Some are proactive, and ensure maintenance is done and necessary monies are spent to keep the building sparkling like new. Others are not, and allow the building to fall into disrepair, necessitating large special levies to repair things when they finally become unserviceable.
I was showing a condo to a buyer not long ago. I had heard good things about the building, that the owners and council were very proactive and up-to-date on repairs and maintenance. It showed when we pulled up to the building. The landscaping was neatly groomed, the front door was clean and free of fingerprints and grime, the lobby was spotless and I noticed that the 80’s-era building had had a recent makeover with new light fixtures, carpets, and paint.
Then we entered the elevator. On the wall was a large notice (I paraphrase):
We all know that there have been several undesirable individuals who have been hanging around our building. It has been made aware to Council that several of these people are HIV positive, and thus hepatitis must also be a concern. DO NOT APPROACH THESE INDIVIDUALS! Call 911 if you are approached!
Naturally, my buyer was turned off instantly and I was quite embarrassed. If you lived in the building, would you want the first impression of your home to be a place that “undesirables” frequent when your friends and family arrive? What if you were the seller of this particular unit? Or his or her agent? Would you want this to be the first impression a potential buyer has?
While it was good of the council to inform the residents of the building about these problematic people, a public notice is not the place for it! A letter under the door of each unit would get the message across more discretely and would guarantee that every resident received the warning.
Often these issues can be brought to the attention of the overzealous council without drama or incident. Remember, the council members are owners too, and likely want to preserve their best interests as well.
Live in a strata? What’s your council like? Comment below!