With so many people losing their jobs, are owners obligated to continue to make Strata Fee payments?
Owners who are contacting us with questions about needing to pay their strata fees are being told that they must continue. As is always the case with those facing acute financial hardship, they will need to provide details to their Strata Council so that they may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
How can owners make payments for Strata Fees?
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we have temporarily suspended acceptance of in-person payments for strata fees and other amounts owing to your Strata Corporation. Payment by Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD) is preferred. To set up a PAD arrangement, complete this registration form and either scan and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send by fax to 604-904-2323. Alternatively, you can mail your payment in by cheque or money order or contact your Property Manager to make other arrangements for payment.
Will our Annual General Meeting (AGM) Proceed?
At this time, most of our clients have suspended and postponed General Meetings due to the restrictions on numbers of attendees and the requirement to maintain adequate social distance. Technological solutions to this problem are being developed, and some Strata Corporations are proceeding with General Meetings on a “restricted proxy” basis. That said, both of these options present several limitations and neither is ideal for Strata Corporations of more than a dozen or so Strata Lots. Strata Councils are making arrangements, where possible, to reschedule Annual General and Special General Meetings, and will arrange for notification to be mailed out to all Owners.
Is there a positive case of COVID-19 at our building?
Stratawest does not collect or maintain a list of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, nor would we be permitted to disclose such information if we had a list. Advice from public health officials and all levels of government is that most individuals who have COVID-19 will not be tested. The capacity to do so is lacking and needs to be prioritized based on the most urgent cases and those individuals who are at most risk of either serious illness themselves or spreading the virus to a vulnerable community (ie. health care workers). Recommendations regarding public health are that all individuals with symptoms be treated as potential carriers of COVID-19. Accordingly, it is up to all residents to ensure that they are taking care when travelling through common areas. Maintain at least two metres between yourself and others, avoid touching surfaces with bare hands, wash thoroughly before entering and exiting the hallways and elevators, cough into your elbow, etc. In short, act as if your neighbours may have the flu and you do not want to catch it.
Will I be paid on time?
If you are a Strata Corporation employee or contractor, please know that we have prioritized invoices and payroll above all other functions in our accounting department. While we are working with less capacity than usual as some staff are working remotely and all are working in shifts, we do not expect any interruptions in payroll or invoice processing. We have been designated an essential service by the Government of British Columbia, which allows us to continue to operate our accounting department (while maintaining adequate social distance between staff members, who work in shifts).
Are open houses still permitted?
Strata Corporation Bylaws and Rules govern the use of Strata Lots and Common Property at Strata Corporations. Your individual Strata Council may have established Rules prohibiting or placing other restrictions on Open Houses and other gatherings. The Real Estate Council of British Columbia, who oversee the activities of Trading Services (Realtors) Licensees has recommended that Open Houses be suspended indefinitely, you can read their official post here.
Are moves still permitted?
Like open houses, Strata Corporation Bylaws and Rules govern moves to and from your property. Some Strata Corporations are implementing Rules to prohibit moves in and out of properties we manage. Please check with your Property Manager before scheduling a move. Most properties are still allowing moves, however new restrictions and protocols may be necessary to ensure the health and safety of both the movers and the occupants of the property. You can do your part to mitigate any health risks by taking some of the following steps when planning your move:
- Postpone your move if you are at high risk of illness, and if at all possible;
- Postpone your move if you believe you, or someone in your household, may have contracted COVID-19 and you are required to self-isolate;
- Minimize all human contact for your move, including ensuring movers have a maximum of 2 people at a time in the elevator, observe social distancing (2 meters apart at any given time);
- Work with moving companies that have clear plans and protocol in place to address the risk of transmission of COVID-19 including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and frequent cleaning of surfaces they come into contact with during the process of moving;
- Do not use recycled boxes if at all possible; wipe down items before and after moving, including all container surfaces;
- Have a backup plan in place in case your Strata Corporation or the Government implement further restrictions on moves.
How are Strata Corporation employee absences to be handled?
Strata Councils and our firm are developing contingency plans in the event employees (or front line contractors such as hired janitorial staff) get ill. It’s important that each Strata Corporation be thinking about “worst case scenario” with respect to staffing and planning accordingly. Though some Owners may have experience and capabilities in fields such as plumbing and engineering, it’s important to be mindful of liability concerns from the Strata Corporation’s insurers. It’s important to check with them before anything but the most basic and light of duties are performed.