2 out of 3
There is a lot that can go wrong. Strata living can ‘nickel and dime’ you to death, especially in a low-rise condo. The only reason it’s not as obvious is that your cost is spread out among all owners. Big ticket items such as a new roof or waterproof membrane may require a special levy of $10,000. Some of it is regular upkeep and maintenance, and some of it is avoidable costs that are created from mistakes, oversights, inefficiencies and communication breakdowns in strata politics.
There was a time when a community like yours could be effectively run by a group of committed volunteers who took care of the finances, hired the trades, and were personally involved in mediation and resolution of complaints within the community. Those people worked hard as a team, and felt supported by each other, as well as from other owners. Serious lawsuits, and interpersonal conflicts were extremely rare, because the vast majority of owner residents had respect for their strata property investment, and were eager to keep things maintained and taken care of.
Aside from the rare few, and ever decreasing stratas that are self-managed, or have a strong group of committed volunteers, most strata corporations are forced to rely on the ‘modern’ approach to strata management – hire expensive trades, pay a great deal of money for insurance, and keep a lawyer on retainer. This perspective is one that minimizes risk, and by association, responsibility; it’s not a question of if something bad is going to happen, but when. All of these issues have stayed off most people’s radar, especially since the housing market exploded, and the Lower Mainland of BC became one of the richest in North America, and the world.
All it could take would be an illness, a family tragedy, or losing a job to get behind on paying the bills. Months of stress could lead to losing your calm demeanor with your neighbor who seems to be making much more noise than usual. A few nights lack of sleep can change everything. You know that you only have a couple months savings if things started getting bad. Could your relationship to your strata be more important than you once thought?