Strata Commission Driving Compliance via Workshops

In its on-going effort to increase compliance of annual returns filings, and assist proprietors in maintaining proper accounting records, the Commission of Strata Corporations embarked on a series of Annual Returns and Bookkeeping Workshops,  These mostly targeted persons who had made filings in the past, but their submissions were found to be deficient in some way.

 The first in the series of small, hands-on sessions, was held at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites on Friday June 30.  Subsequent sessions were held in Trelawny on September 29, in Kingston on and Friday November 24 and 30  to cater to persons in that section of the island,   All were attended by a group of eleven to fifteen invited strata proprietors and/or property managers. 

In bringing greetings and thanking everyone for their attendance at the first session, the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Phillip Chambers, noted that the key to each person being able to enjoy the peace and prosperity of his or her unit or property, was each person understanding and enforcing the rules in their strata corporation without fear or favour.  “It is absolutely important that particularly the chairmen of these committees, that you empower yourselves with the knowledge, too often we have seen where persons have been placed in positions of authority that they truly don’t understand what is involved.” He also pointed out that the purchase of a property is the single largest purchase that most Jamaicans will make and the ability to enjoy that investment has wider implications for the interaction of Jamaicans.  He expressed similar sentiments as subsequent sessions. 

“We wanted to be very deliberate and targeted in our approach and intervention,” explained Director of the Registration Strata Titles Act, Ms. Tricia Harris. “So instead of a large, open forum, we decided on a smaller group of invited persons.  Since these persons would have either submitted Annual Returns recently or in the past, they are quite au fait with the process and such it can be pitched at a higher level, compared to persons who have never filed returns or had very little to no knowledge of what it includes,” Ms. Harris elaborated.

The feedback from the initial 3-hour session was overwhelmingly positive. Shanice Gordon, a property manager, said that the workshop was beneficial to her in “so many ways”. Explaining further, Ms Gordon said “firstly, I learnt how to properly file my returns, that maintenance fees are not to be charged retroactively, returns are to be filed 120 days after the financial year, documents must be signed by strata chairman or executive member…also there must be a proper location on the notice as to where and when a meeting will be held,” Ms. Gordon cited as key information she learned during the session.

Another attendee, Violet Wade, was also effusive in her praise for the Commission and the value of the Workshop.  “The Workshop was professionally managed and provided clarification on a number of issues that were well-received.”  Among the issues she pointed out for special mention were: The Financial Year-end of the strata vis-a-vis the required submission date of the annual returns; the requirement that the Minutes for the AGM and any EGM held during the year must be submitted for the year of the Returns; and the implication of having members who are not up-to-date with their maintenance payment vote as it means that those decisions made with their votes cannot stand should they be challenged.

“The exercises (case study) were well thought-out to give a working appreciation of what we learned,” She concluded in her assessment” she stated.

Attendees at the ensuing three workshops expressed gratitude to the Commission of their invitation and said they would have benefitted tremendously from their participation.

Strata Corporations are required under the Registration (Strata Titles) Act, to submit Annual Returns to the Corporation within 120 days after the end of a financial year.  This includes Minutes of Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings held during the filing period, names and addresses of the current Executive Committee members elected during the filing period, Certificate of Insurance (or copy of unanimous resolution not to insure the property), and audited financial statements, or statement done in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.  The requirement for financial statement, would have in part, driven the need for basic bookkeeping/accounting workshops to support the account processes of strata corporations.

The Commission is seeking to have this be an on-going Workshops, with at least one per quarter.  All attendees were provided with a workbook and certificate of participation.

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