Yesterday EKAN Inspections completed a condo inspection in the Lower Lonsdale area of North Vancouver. The building was 25 years old, three storey, with 18 apartments in total. I love older condos because they typically have more street parking for visitors, more green space around them and are well located to shops and services. Besides they usually share a common meter for gas and water, splitting those utility costs among the number of residents.
The owner’s association was managing the maintenance and operation of the property without a hired property management company, thus the handle of ‘self-managed’ strata. The first reason why self-managed stratas or co-ops are popular is because they save money, in the form of lower monthly maintenance fees, which can be substantial, in the range of $100 per month per owner or more. The second reason for self management is that the owners association have the time, interest and experience in doing so.
A hired property management firm is normally employed when the building is too large for the owners to handle, the mechanical systems are complex or there are rentals suites with all the complications of move-in, move-out and house rules enforcement. A property management firm will (or should) be on top of the latest fire, life safety and municipal regulations. However, one of the biggest advantages of a professional management firm is that they will maintain and follow checklists for maintenance, inspection and servicing needs of the building.
I’m all for self management of a co-op or strata. A competent owner’s association in a self-managed building will be aware of their limitations and will know when to seek additional support. This can be in the form of Engineer’s reports (depreciation or condition assessments), service and maintenance contracts on complex systems (boilers, elevators, fire alarm systems) or use of pre-qualified contractors for emergency call-outs (plumbing, heating, roofing).
Every co-op or strata should do a self assessment on how their building is being run and decide which management style is most appropriate. You may be surprised that in this age of DIY to find that there are untapped resident expertise and resources up to the challenge of doing it in-house and saving on the monthly fees.