Privacy Guidelines for Strata Corporations

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We have previously written on Access to Records requests that Strata Corporations routinely face.  All Strata Corporation records are subject to various pieces of legislation, most notably the Strata Property Act (SPA) itself.  However, SPA is subservient to other provincial and federal legislation such as the Personal Information Protection Act and PIPA overrides SPA in a variety of circumstances.

The Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) has recently updated their guidelines for Strata Corporations.  In their words:

These guidelines will help strata corporations and strata agents in discharging their duties under the Strata Property Act (“SPA”) in a manner that respects the privacy of owners and tenants under the B.C. Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) and promotes transparency in the operation of strata corporations.

The guidelines can be found here while a compilation of the most Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.

Many Strata Corporations are unaware of the requirements to adhere to PIPA and to call them cumbersome would be an understatement. Nevertheless, that doesn’t diminish the responsibility of a Strata Council to learn more about PIPA and make informed decisions when dealing with sensitive personal information.  Some examples of matters that Councils routinely face are included in the FAQ, such as:

 

Q: Can a strata corporation provide an owner with the contact information for other owners?

A:Strata corporations are required to keep a list of the names and mailing addresses of strata lot owners and make the list available to other owners and other authorized individuals pursuant to ss. 35 and 36 of SPA. This list does not include an owner’s phone number, email address, or other contact information beyond mailing addresses if different from their strata unit. If a strata corporation wants to disclose additional contact information of owners, it must ensure that the disclosure is for a reasonable purpose and that the individual has consented to such a disclosure and for such a purpose.

Q: If an individual sends an email to a strata manager, and requests that the email remain private, is the strata manager allowed to share the email including personal information with the strata council?

A: If the email contains strata related information, then it cannot remain private. The strata manager presumably is contracted to act on behalf of the strata council and strata corporation. Sections 35 and 36 of SPA specify the strata must keep copies of correspondence that it receives. If an owner or strata council member requests access to those pieces of correspondence, they are entitled to view them and/or obtain copies.

Q: What personal information can a strata corporation collect at strata council meetings and include in the minutes?

A: PIPA does not prescribe what personal information should or should not be included in a strata corporation’s minutes. Strata councils should ensure that only the minimal amount of personal information required to provide an accurate and objective account of its decisions is recorded in the meeting minutes. If a strata council member or a guest attends a strata council meeting, they have provided implied consent to have their name and unit number or strata lot number recorded in the strata council minutes.

Similarly, the names of any authorized people in attendance at the meeting, such as the strata manager can be noted in the minutes. The name, strata lot number and/or unit number of each strata council member, who is not attending the meeting, may also be recorded. Section 18(3) of the Standard Bylaws states that “the results of all votes at a council meeting must be recorded in the council meeting minutes.” Minutes of strata council meetings should record all decisions made by the strata council, but need not include the exact discussions leading up to any votes. It is important that the strata council minutes clearly document how resolutions are amended and the outcome of any votes. Our guidelines have more detailed practical guidance on what should not be included in council meeting minutes.

 

We encourage all Strata Councils to familiarize themselves with the requirements of PIPA, develop an appropriate Privacy Policy for your Strata Corporation, and to contract legal assistance in drafting Bylaws that deal with the collection and use of personal information such as fob and video surveillance records.  Your Property Manager can assist and provide guidance with all of these matters, so please do not hesitate to ask.