Strata policy enforcementNobody wants to be responsible for the task of ensuring all the strata bylaws are being followed. However, the Strata Property Act states that a strata corporation must have bylaws. Along with bylaws, a strata corporation can make rules governing the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets.

It’s important to note that any rules made need to be inline with the bylaws. Because should there be any conflict between the two, the bylaw prevails. Creating realistic rules to go along with the bylaws and fairly enforcing them not only helps your strata corporation run smoothly but can also improve the overall resident experience.

So how does a strata council enforce bylaws and rules in a way that is fair, polite, and doesn’t create conflict between you and the community?

Create realistic rules for your strata corporation 

To have a chance at being successful in enforcing strata rules, you need to make sure they’re realistic. If a rule is unclear or hard to follow, chances are it won’t be followed. When in the process of creating new rules, there are important questions to ask before the rule is implemented. When you know a rule is easy to interpret and follow, you’re making it easier for that rule to be enforced.

4 Tips for strata policy enforcement 

When it comes to bylaw and rule enforcement, it can be a difficult situation for a strata council member to be in. As a member of the strata corporation, you want what’s best for the community. The rules are designed to do that and help create a harmonious environment.

However, you’re enforcing rules that impact your neighbours, and in many cases friends. The last thing you want to do is sour relationships by being a stickler.

The good news is that the task of rule enforcement shouldn’t fall entirely on your shoulders. Ultimately, it’s your strata management company’s job to enforce the rules.

With that in mind, it’s important to partner with your management company and follow these four tips for healthy bylaw and rule enforcement:

  1. Educate

  2. Stay consistent

  3. Be transparent

  4. Evaluate

 Let’s take a closer look at each tip.

1. Educate 

Strata policy communicationFor bylaw and rule compliance, communication and education are key. Everyone in your community, from new to long-time residents, needs to know the ‘what, how, and why’ of your rules.

What is the bylaw? 

Explain what the bylaw is and what it does and why it exists. For example: Our strata corporation is now a smoke free environment. Meaning smoking is no longer permitted in common areas. 

How is the bylaw followed? 

Give a thorough explanation of what residents need to do (or not do) to comply. For example: All homeowners, residents, and guests must not smoke cigarettes, cigars, or any tobacco or marijuana products (including e-cigarettes and vapes) in common areas or within 100 feet of residences. 

Why is the bylaw important? 

For ease of compliance, reinforce the benefits of the bylaw and corresponding rules (if there are any) and what it will do to help or improve the community. For example: Creating a smoke free environment will enhance the resident experience (exposing individuals to less second-hand smoke) and improve our reputation with potential buyers, leading to enhanced property values.

Work with your management company to communicate the bylaws and rules. Use multiple channels like newsletters, social media, your community’s website, emails, and announcements in common areas. This will ensure all residents get the message.

2. Stay consistent 

Consistent and fair strata bylaw and rule enforcement is critical. No one wants to be a part of a community where certain residents or strata council members get special privileges when it comes to observing rules. This practice can create conflict throughout the community and in worst cases, it can result in discrimination lawsuits.
To ensure consistent enforcement, follow these simple dos and don’ts:

  • DO: Lead by example. If you expect residents to follow a rule, you need to do the same. Strata council members are not exempt from the rules.

  • DON’T: Change your rules based on circumstances or individuals. While it may seem to make things easier in the short term, it can create problems in the long term.

  • DO: Enforce rules when they are violated. If residents assume they’ll be able to get away with breaking the rules, they will. Make sure you are enforcing rules and bylaws according to a process set in place.

While consistent rule enforcement is the job of your management company, you need to be their partner to ensure it’s being done fairly. Your reputation as a strata council and corporation depends on it.

3. Be transparent 

How the rules are enforced shouldn’t be a surprise to members of your community. In addition to understanding the ‘what, how, and why’ of the rule, residents need to know what happens when one is violated. They also need to understand the potential fines that are in place and how they are collected.
In accordance with the Strata Property Act, strata corporations can do one or more of the following to enforce a bylaw or rule:

  • strata bylaw enforcementImpose a fine

  • Remedy a contravention

  • Deny access to a recreational facility

Maximum fines must be set out in the strata corporation’s bylaws. And before a bylaw or rule is enforced, the strata corporation may give a person a warning or time to comply.

When creating a process for enforcing strata rules and bylaws work with your management company to ensure that you’re abiding by best practices and in accordance with the Strata Property Act and local laws.

4. Evaluate 

Always remember that things change. The rules that your strata had in place five years ago may not be relevant anymore. That’s why it’s important to review them on an annual basis. When reviewing rules, work with your management company and strata corporation’s attorney to ask the following questions:

  • Has new legislation passed any laws that invalidate this rule?

  • Does this rule improve resident lifestyles?

  • Will this rule quickly become outdated?

  • Does this rule remain relevant for residents and owners?

If during the evaluation process you decide to revise or review an existing rule, make sure you educate residents about the change and explain the reasoning behind it. Because transparency and consistency remain key when it comes to rule compliance and enforcement.

Monday February 26, 2024