Help for StrataCommons Organizer admins.

Frequently Asked Questions for Organizer Admins

General Strata Set Up

How do I enter unit numbers for a strata that has a non linear numbering system?

For example, we have 40 units and the numbers are floor based so level one has units 101 to 111, level two has 201 to 211 and so on.

When you set up your strata, you will see a screen that lets you set the start and end unit numbers for your whole strata or start and end numbers floor by floor. (You can also add additional floors.) In this case you should use the floor by floor method.

If we have a couple in a unit sharing an email address, can they have separate owner accounts and will they receive two copies of the email digest? So far we have been adding them as a single entry, i.e. “Smith, John and Mary.”

You’re entering John and Mary exactly right. The email address is used for the account user name for sign on so there’s only one email allowed per sign up which means one digest per account. We’ve asked owners what they want in our strata - some want their own account and some want a joint account. Those that want their own account have to provide a separate email. You can associate multiple user accounts with a single unit.

Who looks after data maintenance and security?

StrataCommons is responsible for all the data maintenance and security of the web service. Our services are located within Canada, subject to Federal and Provincial privacy laws and we’re using the latest in data protection and management services. None of the data collected and stored in StrataCommons Organizer leaves Canada.

What if we decide to stop using your service? Can we get a copy of our data?

Should you decide you don’t want to use the service, we’ll provide you with a link to all your data. Once clicked, the link will automatically download all records to your computer.

One of our owners can’t access StrataCommons on their computer (phone, laptop, tab etc.) What’s wrong?

The most common answer to this involves the terms of service after you sent them the welcome email. We’ve learned that most individuals who can’t access our site haven’t checked off the agreement. We suggest you resend the welcome email to that individual. Once they’ve accepted the terms and created a password (basically completed the sign on process) they should not have any problems using StrataCommons on any device.

Should Council have some kind of formal relationship with StrataCommons?

Yes, ideally your Council approves by motion the use of StrataCommons as the corporation’s software for their official business record.

While we don’t wish to discourage an individual group of owners from using the software without council approval, we do caution that any such group needs to watch the line between your purposes and council’s role. Be sure to uncheck “Send welcome email” when entering users in the directory when you are just trying out StrataCommons Organizer.

Directory Service

What do I do when an owner sells and a new owner moves in?

Delete the old owner from the directory and create a record for the new owner. Anything attached to the unit such as indemnity agreements stays with the unit, not the owner. The previous owner’s comments on the message service will remain as will documents uploaded by them. However, the deleted owner will not be able to access your strata’s records any more.

What steps do we take to remove somebody from the directory?

  1. Open the directory,
  2. Click on the individual’s name to open their information screen,
  3. Click on “Edit person” which opens the editing screen,
  4. Click on “Remove owner” (may also be tenant or partner depending on their status) which will appear on the right,
  5. The individual will not be able to access your strata in StrataCommons Organizer any more. However, for archival purposes, all their comments, files, etc. will still be available in your StrataCommons Organizer account.

Can we lock certain features in the directory (like email opting in so owners could not change it)?

We designed the software so owners could update their own personal information which makes them responsible if they make changes rather than council having to track them. So locking down certain functions isn’t an option by design except for the email opt-in field.

There is a Condominium Home Owners Association form available that you might use that has owners sign off how they want to receive official communication and documentation from the strata. Once they’ve signed this and indicated that email is their choice, they can’t legally change how they receive official documentation without also changing that form. This gives you some measure of control.

We’ve therefore set the email opt-in field as changeable only by the admin.

How do I connect a document such as an indemnity agreement to a specific unit?

  1. Go to “Directory”.
  2. Choose “Units”.
  3. Select the specific unit in question - not the name of the person but the unit number at the left. This will open the unit’s detail view.
  4. Click on “Edit unit”.
  5. Click on “Upload a new file” under “Related documents” and the new file box will open allowing you to do this. Be sure to select “Council” as the group so it will be marked private to council members. Fill in the other boxes and click on “Upload the new document” and it will appear in the related documents box and is now attached to the unit.
  6. Click on “Update unit” at the bottom of the form.

The document will now be attached to the unit and will show up in the Form B work. The document will remain with the unit, even if the current owner may sell and move.

How do we add information like storage lockers, parking spaces or key fobs to the directory?

We have a number of customizable data fields in the directory and you can decide what those fields should contain. For example, you could create one for your storage lockers, another for parking stalls or key fobs etc. These fields are associated with each individual unit and will show up when you click on the unit screen.

  1. Go to the “Admin” service and select “Strata”. You’ll see a section called “Custom fields for units”.
  2. To customize those fields, select “Edit strata” and at the bottom you’ll see a section named “Custom fields for units”.
  3. Enter the desired names for each custom field. You can change the example “Parking stall #” to anything you want. Checking or un-checking the enabled box makes the field active or disables it. Once checked, the field shows up on the directory service when you click on units. You’ve got five that you can set up for your purposes.
  4. Once you’ve set up the fields, you can enter the data for each unit using the directory service. Click on units, select a unit on the left and then click on “Edit unit”. The new custom fields now shows in the form and you can add your information. Then click “Update unit” and you’re away. When you go to the directory list of units, the new information will appear.

Requests Service

How does StrataCommons Organizer handle single user (non-group) communication?

We’ve created a service called requests available on the main menu which allows an owner to register a work order for example or other one off type questions. This is then forwarded to the group responsible (which may also be an individual - groups can have one person in them.) Our biggest use of this is with gardening or facilities related requests.

In general, the principle behind the Organizer is group communication and the creation of a corporate record. It is not meant to be a replacement for an email service so there are no options for individual conversation. Most stratas use owners’ home email for such things.

Library Service

How do I delete documents in the library?

As a side note, only those in the “Admin” group can delete things - nobody else has that level of access. To delete a file from the library go to the library service and click on the details button found beside the document you want to work with. (This is just to the right of the created column. There are two buttons - open and details.) A screen opens showing group, category, description, created etc. At the bottom of that first box you’ll see a button labeled “Edit document or upload new version”. Click on that and the edit document screen will appear and you can change all those document details. On the right of that screen are three buttons and the middle one is delete document. Click that and a screen opens at the top asking you to confirm. Click on OK and the document is gone.

Can I give owners read only rights to documents in the library? We don’t want people changing them.

Yes, this is done using the group function. Only the group loading the document can reload a new version. So for example, if the “Council” group loads up the last council minutes only another member of the group council can load up a new version. You should also uncheck the box “private to group” which allows every owner (not partner or tenant) to read the minutes but only council members can change the document.

Can we stop owners from uploading a document? We are worried we may get something inappropriate.

The simple answer is no by design. In our experience, uploading documents can be very valuable and helpful for all owners. As the strata admin you have the right to remove a document that you think is inappropriate. Owners have signed a statement about behaving so you can hold them to this. We wouldn’t recommend you do this on your own - get your council involved.

It is interesting that using a new technology will result in policy issues like managing inappropriate comments or documents. Your Council may have to make some related decisions.

One final comment - so far, either on the Forum or with the Organizer, people have been very well behaved. On the Forum, we did have to remove a comment that was verging on the libelous. We wrote the author, explained and removed it. They had no problems and were apologetic. Secondly, our experience is that many people won’t take the time to learn how to upload a document so you’ll get control by default. In our strata, owners come to us for help so we get to informally comment on appropriateness.

Why can’t I upload my Word or Excel files to the Library?

Files need to be in PDF format. We made this decision to ensure that everyone can read Organizer documents without using any special software. As well, in the business world, PDFs are generally used to represent corporate documents. Convert your Word file to a PDF and then it will load in the library.

Is there any size limitation for file uploads to the library?

Yes 10MB per document - no document limit. We uploaded our AGM package with 40 pages of documentation and it came to 1 MB. The only time we’ve run into problems is when somebody tries to upload a PDF with a large number of pictures in it or when they scan a large document at a very high resolution. (One of our council members scanned the entire depreciation report at the highest level on his scanner - nearly 20 MB! At a lower scanning level, it only needed 1.1 MB.)

Is it advisable to attach a comment to a document at the time it’s uploaded to notify users about this? Are new document uploads automatically included in the digest email notification?

Attaching a comment doesn’t trigger notification of a new document and new documents are not included in the digest although it is something that might be useful - the StrataCommons team will talk about it. We’re very careful with communicating with owners. For a while we had way too many notices and emails flying around and people complained. If the document is really an important bit of business, we attach it to a message using conversations and tick the box under message priority in the set up screen. This message then goes out to all owners’ personal email with a link to the document.

Form B

Can StrataCommons Organizer help me do a Form B?

Yes, we have a Form B document packaging service. Click on admin - Form B/F preparation and then prepare a new Form B/F package for a menu that will let you choose what documents you want in the package as well as those required by the regulations (depreciation report, yearly budget etc.) You will need to prepare your own Form B and we have a .docx template you can use.

Often the buyer’s agent or law office will want more than the basics - like a couple of years of strata minutes for example. First, choose the unit that needs a Form B or F. Then select the files and our service will package these for you. We’ll send you an email link that you can email to the realtor or lawyer. (Clicking on the link will download the documents.) We also create a document you may use as an invoice with the cost of the Form B and number of pages. You can then email this to the realtor or law office and you’re away. (You may charge $35 per Form B and $15 per Form F along with $0.25 per page - electronic or otherwise.)

Please note that we charge a fee for this service - it is one way we fund the software. If you want to play around to see how it works, please drop us a note and we will give you a free one.

I need more help please!

We’re happy to answer your questions by email. We also provide services for a fee including:

  • uploading directory information,
  • converting documents to PDF form,
  • uploading documents to your library,
  • training councils or owners,
  • and consulting with councils on digitizing business records.

We charge $100 per hour for these services. Please contact us directly at [email protected]