A Strata Property Manager is often mistaken for a property manager or real estate agent, but their role is quite different.
Perhaps this confusion arises as some people are not familiar with the term Strata Property.
So, let’s have a quick look at exactly what Strata Property is, and this will give us a better understanding of the role of a Strata Property Manager.
Strata Property (title) is a legal concept of ownership that has been created to subdivide land and property into separate ownership. Such property is governed by strata legislation.
The residential units in a strata scheme are divided into ‘lots,’ and maybe individual units / apartments, townhouses or even houses. When a property owner purchases a lot, they own the individual unit outright but also share the ownership of common property such as entrances, elevator lobbies, walkways and gardens with other lot owners.
Sometimes, the word condominium is used for strata properties.
Strata Property Managers (“Strata Property Manager”) are professionals who are responsible for the administration of owners’ corporations, the legal entity “owning” the common areas in a strata title building. The Strata Property Manager is responsible for keeping the buildings and common areas properly maintained for the benefit of all lot owners, under the guidance of the strata council, a collection of individual owners representing all strata lot owners.
Strata Property Manager’s are specialists in their field, possessing the knowledge and skill to administer the strata corporation in accordance with the complex regulations set by the province in Canada. To become a licensed strata manager in BC, one must pass the Strata Licensing Course administered by UBC on behalf of the BC Financial Services Authority.
A Run Down of the Strata Property Manager’s Day
The duties of a Strata Property Manager are varied and extensive, and there is not really a “typical” working day. Strata Property Manager’s have a portfolio of properties to look after as well as having irregular hours due to the need to be available during strata council meetings. Often this may be in the early evenings or sometimes at weekends.
However, to give a flavour of what it means to be a Strata Property Manager in Vancouver, here’s an example of how a working Monday may look like:
As with most others, I get to work earlier than the designated start time of 9:00 am in order to have some quiet time and read my emails and any other messages. I don’t expect to see any emergency requests as, if there were emergencies, I would have been contacted over the weekend. But there are maintenance requests and always comments and/or questions from unit owners in the five strata properties I look after.
I prioritize those items which need to be actioned straight away and then continue to work my way through such a list during the day.
One key task I like to keep up to date with is to organize and coordinate repairs and the maintenance of common property areas. I always try to have a preventative maintenance programme in place so as repairs are made in good time with minimal disruption to residents. It’s so much easier to address such issues before they arise and reduce the chances of receiving complaints from residents if, for example, the lifts are out of order.
I also begin prioritizing maintenance requests. Depending on the nature and status of the job, I either make appointments with contractors, arrange for quotes, approve work orders or follow up on any outstanding jobs. I have the responsibility to pay contractors as I manage all of the cash flows of a property.
Part of my job is also hiring (and firing) contractors to deal with routine maintenance issues, including such tasks as cleaning, landscape maintenance, and garbage collection.
If there are any insurance claims as a result of the work or other matters, I also lodge such claims and then monitor progress until completion of the work and payment by the insurance company.
Arranging property insurance is an important part of my job, and I carefully monitor policy expiry and premium due dates, also regularly checking around for better quotes from insurers.
Later today, I have to attend a strata council meeting in one of the buildings I look after, so I run through the minutes of the last meeting again and double-check that all the necessary paperwork is in order and that all follow-up actions have been attended to. Providing accurate and timely reporting to the strata is a key part of my job.
Also, I am responsible to assist the strata council to set dates for council meetings, the annual general meeting and any extraordinary meetings, as well as preparing and distributing notices, agendas and minutes to all committee members. I also message council members to make sure that they will attend tonight’s meeting.
Apart from maintenance requests, I also receive calls or emails asking about financial and budgetary advice (i.e. does the strata property have any extra funds for capital improvements (as distinct to repairs)) or the resolution of disputes and advice in case an owner or tenant appears to be breaking the complex rules (i.e. no pets or no smoking in the property).
I use the time before my planned site inspection this afternoon to authorize and arrange payment of all invoices up to the limit to which I am authorized. It’s a continuous job to keep updating and reviewing financial statements and budgets in order to provide an accurate assessment of yearly costs, as this will help in the next year’s budgeting.
Strata Management does not involve looking after the internal space of the unit, but often, I get requests to get someone to change light bulbs or fix broken water heaters. Where I can’t help, I put the owner or tenant in touch with the building manager (caretaker) or his/her staff.
During the morning, one or more of my colleagues may stop by for a chat about larger projects where we are collaborating and need a variety of skill sets. Or it might just be to discuss an update on, say, any new legislation or rules or regulation of strata legislation that might affect the operation of our properties.
Normally I take a quick lunch. If I’m in the office, I’ll also continue to work through my “to-do” list as soon as I have finished eating. However, I am often out on-site and will occasionally have a working lunch with one of the building managers or owners’ council members.
Most days after lunch, I will visit at least one of the properties that I look after.
Each property has a building manager with support technical and cleaning staff, plus security personnel as its core complement. There may also be a marketing or leasing function on-site if some of the units are rented out by owners.
I will do a regular inspection of the building with the building manager to make sure the overall performance is up to standard. We will discuss any major events or problems, and I usually make a written and visual record of my tour. If there are major repairs underway at the property, I will spend more time inspecting progress but generally am just looking to make sure the lifts are working properly, the common areas are looking good, neat and tidy and so on.
Back to the office where I attend to emails or other correspondence, maybe update the owners’ corporation register and attend to any orders, submissions and appeals.
A Strata Property Manager will assist to calculate the amount of monthly or yearly strata fees to be paid by owners, and such fees will be to cover the operating expenses of the common areas of the property, so I need to keep updated on expenses vs budget. I also have to monitor payments of such fees by the unit and chase up any arrears.
I am always receiving new business enquiries, either from existing strata corporations or working with developers to prepare budgets for new buildings. Most Strata Managers work fo strata management companies that contract with the strata corporation to provide strata management services, and such companies are always keen to grow their business.
Dealing with new business enquiries then leads me into an Internal meeting where we do strategic planning with an executive team with the goal of continual betterment of the company. We are always looking to grow the business and improve and provide more to our clients.
At the meeting, we also discuss what’s happening in the strata team, new processes and systems, company news and industry news with the aim to keep informed and continue learning about ways of improving. For example, we might discuss any changes to Occupational Health and Safety regulations or seek advice about handling difficult or complex strata issues.
Just before I head off to the meeting, I do some final administrative preparation work for the owner’s council. I need to keep detailed records of owners’ names and contact information, work performed on the property, and key events which have happened.
I print copies of the agenda and collate any supporting documents that may be discussed, such as budgets, invoices, quotes, photographs, legal forms etc.
Unfortunately, sometimes work spills over into the evening.
I lead a strata council meeting, and we discuss major topics, including budgets, insurance, repairs, property rules and legislation. Recent issues regarding the increasing price of condo insurance in BC are also a common topic. We then discuss the day-to-day issues such as account enquiries, maintenance timelines and contractor issues.
We also discuss any opportunities to contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the value of common properties and common assets. I may have to mediate any disputes between owners, enforce laws and rules for the building and organize information and social events.
As each building and council is different, it’s important to find common ground and channel energies toward identifying what everybody on a council is concerned and help them achieve a decision in the best interests of the strata corporation.
Head for home after another challenging but rewarding day.
Ready to start again tomorrow!
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