Who is Eligible To Stand For Council?
Quite often, there is an awkward moment towards the end of Annual General Meetings where neighbours look at each other and wonder who would be crazy enough to volunteer for the Strata Council. Thankfully, most Strata Corporations have enough interested owners to fill out the Council; however, there are many buildings where this is unfortunately not the case. Prior to those particular elections and during the call of nominations, crickets chirp and tumbleweeds roll. Usually, some brave soul will step up to the plate and be the first to raise their hand to volunteer or perhaps will be “volun-told” by their significant other. Then a neighbour will be cajoled because they have a background in accounting, or law, or construction, and will eventually acquiesce. On it goes, and eventually enough hands are raised to elect a council made up of neighbours.
There are zero formal qualifications to stand for Council… no previous experience, no related work background, and no specific education are required. The Strata Property Act outlines the only criteria for eligibility in Section 28:
Eligibility for council
28 (1) The only persons who may be council members are the following:
(b) individuals representing corporate owners;
(c) tenants who, under section 147 or 148, have been assigned a landlord’s right to stand for council.
(2) Despite subsection (1), the strata corporation may, by a bylaw passed at an annual or special general meeting held after the first annual general meeting, allow classes of persons, other than those referred to in subsection (1), to be council members.
(3) Despite this section, a strata corporation may, by bylaw, provide that no person may stand for council or continue to be on council with respect to a strata lot if the strata corporation is entitled to register a lien against that strata lot under section 116 (1).
Owners are the “easy” category of persons in that if your name is on title for the suite, you are eligible to stand for council. If you are the representative of a corporate owner (i.e. a numbered company you’ve set up), then you are also eligible to stand for council. Finally, long term tenants who have been assigned the “powers and duties” of an owner are also eligible to stand for council. Tenants can be assigned specific rights, either explicitly in writing by an owner or by default if they have signed a lease for a period of 3 years or longer (covered in Section 148, as noted above).
By default, no one else is eligible to be council members. Before electing a person other than one of those mentioned above to the strata council, you must determine if this is permitted by your Strata Corporation bylaws. Note subsection (2) of Section 28, which allows other classes of persons to be eligible for council IF that is permitted by the Bylaws. Any Strata Corporation can pass a bylaw which allows a group of people not otherwise permitted to stand for strata council. The most typical additions of classes we’ve seen are Spouses (the most common, by far) and Children of Owners (usually defined as ‘Adult Children’ and 18 years or older). There is no theoretical limit to the classes of persons who can be made eligible by Bylaw, as the Act is silent on that point.
If your Strata Corporation is having a difficult time finding council members because a specific class of resident (such as the spouse of an owner) is not permitted under your bylaws, you may wish to consider an amendment at your next General Meeting. Likewise, if a resident has a particular interest or expertise but is currently prohibited, it may be worthwhile to consider such an amendment.