7 Ways to Have an Enjoyable Strata Living Experience
With countless benefits, many homebuyers are attracted to strata neighbourhoods. A strata community is likely to have desirable amenities, well-maintained homes, and strong neighbourhood pride. However, not all residents are informed on how to best take advantage of these value-adds and create a more enjoyable strata living experience. Read on to learn ways you can enhance community living and help your strata be successful.
1. Learn the basic terminology.
One of the keys to having a successful living experience in a managed community is understanding the role of the strata corporation and the part you play as a resident. Knowing the basic terminology used within a strata corporation will allow you to easily comprehend operations and processes. Here are some terms you should know:
- Strata Corporation - It's an established non-profit organization that helps manage, run, and maintain a community.
- Strata Council - The strata council consists of volunteers elected to act and make decisions on behalf of the homeowners’ community. There are typically seven officer positions, including the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and three positions at large.
- Governing Documents - A collection of bylaws and rules, articles of incorporation, and guidelines by which the strata corporation operates.
- Strata Management Company - A third-party company strata corporation often contracted to help professionally manage the community.
- Community Association Manager-Strata Manager - The designated strata licensed person appointed by the management company who works directly with your community and council.
- Strata Fines - A fee residents must pay when they violate a community bylaw or rule.
2. Volunteer and get involved.
When homeowners are involved in the community and engage with fellow members, they tend to have a more rewarding experience. As a homeowner, your opinions, participation, and input matter and can even affect council member decisions. If you're looking for ways to become involved, here are some ideas:
- Request to attend council meetings
- Promote and participate in social events
- Volunteer for committees
- Voice your opinion when asked for feedback
- Make suggestions on how to improve the community living
- Ask questions and hold council members accountable
3. Learn about fees and the strata corporation’s finances.
Strata fees are part of living in a strata corporation community. These fees enable the strata operations to support projects, make improvements, and maintain neighbourhood amenities. However, it's essential that you understand how your money is being used. Read council meeting minutes, stay up-to-date with your community's newsletter, and ask questions. The more you know about the strata finances, the more you'll see how your dues impact the budget.
In addition to dues, other fees that may apply to strata residents include special levy assessments. Special levy assessments are extra fees that may be charged to cover budgeting shortfalls or unexpected expenses, like an increase in insurance or a surprise repair bill for a pool or clubhouse. Understanding these fees and their purpose will help you recognize your strata corporation’s needs and funding priorities and appreciate how your contributions support the community.
4. Understand bylaws & rules and avoid violations.
To keep the strata community looking and functioning at its best, a strata corporation usually has several bylaws and rules that residents must abide by. Typically, these bylaws and rules are designed to support the neighbourhood, increase home values, and make the community a safer, more enjoyable place to live.
As a strata member, it's important to understand these bylaws and rules and expect council to enforce them equally. Revisit your governing documents, which you should have received upon buying a home, and familiarize yourself with your strata bylaws and rules and community guidelines to avoid warnings, violations, and fines—and sustain a comfortable environment.
5. Use the amenities.
Many residents agree that amenities are the most significant benefit of being a member of a strata corporation. As features of a strata community meant to promote ease and well-being, amenities are designed to create a more relaxed lifestyle. Plus, your strata fees are what funds and maintains them, so it's a good idea to make use of these offerings.
Some common amenities include:
- Pool and jacuzzi
- Fitness center
- Business center
- Parks and walking trails
- Community-sponsored events
- Concierge services
- Guest suites
6. Meet your neighbours.
Connecting with your neighbours has never been more essential. Whether it's a warm smile or a friendly wave, these gestures are the catalyst for developing meaningful relationships. When you build a tight-knit community, it leads to fewer conflicts and creates a positive environment, open communication and a supportive culture. Here are some ways to connect with your neighbours:
- Welcome new homeowners—a simple hello can go a long way!
- Attend community events together
- Chat at the mailbox
- Ask about changes or additions to your neighbour's yard
- Share friendly seasonal gifts or goodies
7. Get to know council members and communicate with them.
Get to know the officers of your strata council. Designated leaders of the community, reach out to them directly if you have questions, suggestions, or simply want to make the most of your strata membership. Their names and contact information might be found in a welcome package, on the strata website, or community newsletter.
Your strata corporation leaders work on your behalf and strive to improve the quality of living for all residents. They want to hear from you. Take the time to connect with them and offer insight that may help create a supportive homeowner-council relationship. When the council and members work together, everyone wins.