Strata Alert: Christmastime for Strata Managers

Christmas is a stressful time for nearly everyone who marks the holiday. There is shopping to do, parties to attend, family gatherings to dread, traffic to rage at, and pounds to put on.

There is also that magical time between Christmas and New Year’s when things slow down just a touch. Your phone rings a little less; the emails trail off a bit, and the office runs on a skeleton crew. If you are lucky, you can afford to take a couple of extra days off to unwind or at least “work” from home.

The holidays are also a time when crafty strata owners put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

They do not send season’s greetings or tidings of great joy. You can ignore most of these messages until January, but there is one message you cannot ignore: the dreaded hardship rental exemption request.

Everyone knows that under s. 144 of the Strata Property Act, an owner may request a hardship exemption from a rental restriction bylaw. If the strata fails to respond to the request on time, as set out in s. 144(4) (you can read the timelines yourself here); the exemption is automatically allowed. That is why late December is not just the holiday season; it is also hardship exemption request season.

We get a frantic phone call about an overlooked hardship request every January.

So our Christmas wish for all you is that you keep at least one eye on that inbox and the mail slot. If your strata has a mailbox on site, make sure someone from the council checks it every day. Consider setting up rules on your email inbox that alert you to messages containing words like “rent,” “rental,” “hardship,” or “exemption.” You can use inbox rules to filter and forward messages to people who need to read them. You can also use inbox rules to send template responses and text alerts to your phone.

So before you settle in for your winter nap, or your brain gets fogged over with turkey and eggnog, take a moment to develop a strategy to deal with that rental hardship request that may come in over the holidays. If it comes in and you catch it, your Christmas will be merry indeed.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We look forward to working with all of you in 2020.