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LETTER OF THE DAY - Who says the Strata Act doesn't have teeth?

Published:Friday | May 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I put much faith in the effectiveness of the Act to Amend the Registration (Strata Titles) Act with respect to the procedures it outlines for enforcing the payment of maintenance fees by strata owners.

The two main penalties are the power of sale and the order of possession. The power of sale process may be invoked after 30 days or more of delinquency by owners with whom the Strata Corporation is in contact. The order of possession applies to owners of properties in delinquency of 60 days and more, and who have not been in contact with the Strata Corporation.

I have much faith in the remedies, because I have seen how swiftly owners will come up with outstanding maintenance fees when a notice is placed on an apartment door warning of the consequences of further default of payment.

The aim of the law is, of course, not to sell people's properties. Rather, the aim is to get owners to keep their maintenance fees up to date. Moral suasion will be effective with only a small percentage of owners. With the majority, sometimes only a big stick above their heads will work.

The process to get the property on the auction block or to get a judge to issue an order of possession requires procedural diligence - and rightly so. Critics who interpret these procedures as "a lot of hassle" are misguided. Delinquent owners have rights, and care has to be exercised that those rights are protected under due process of the law.

So executive committees of strata corporations should not scoff at the steps to effect overdue payment; rather, they should start with the first step. In most instances, your committee will not need to go all the way.

Surely, a few properties may end up on the auction block and some will not be sold immediately. But take consolation from the fact that the rest of the owners in the strata complex have got the message that delinquency is not tolerated.

Ultimately, your committee will see a much higher compliance rate of payment, and that is, ultimately, what your committee wanted in the first instance.

SYDNEY DAVIS

sideem@gmail.com