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May 29, 2015

On Privacy, Strata Corporations and Management

On Privacy, Strata Corporations and Management

“That’s actually a great way to protect your client’s information.” Was the compliment I received upon informing a client Treasurer we do not email financial records. Unique in the local industry, C&C Property Group eschews some of the internet-savvy practices that competitors strive to out-do each other over. The fact is, when occasionally we are questioned why, most are unable to disagree with the legal and moral realities around the best interest of the client whose information we are entrusted with.

Progress can indeed be double edged: The “Internet of Things” refers to the growing infrastructure of web-connected objects (fridges, cars, phones, etc.) that combine to create an unprecedented potential for information on our personal activities to be gathered.

Privacy is a topic for our times, with threats, perceived or real, presenting themselves from such diverse origins as government eavesdropping, police profiling, and youthful indiscretion. Recent high profile incidents of serious consequence have ostensibly driven Bill C-13 and its associated politics.

On the practical side for Strata Corporations, compliance with the BC Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) must often be considered.

  • We have previously published in these blogs that PIPA requires a Strata Corporation to appoint a Privacy Officer.
  • Where an electronic key fob system is in place, a Strata requires a bylaw in place that authorizes the collection of personal information that can be derived from fob access (actual use of the information would still be restricted)
  • Where a video surveillance system is in place, a Strata must be aware that PIPA does not authorize such systems to be used for bylaw and rule enforcement – only for serious property and safety matters

We should also note how easy it can be for legitimate recourses to be hindered invoking PIPA, of which I can cite two examples:

  • After dialog had been met with obfuscation and denial, a Strata Corporation had reached the point of hoping that photos of offending actions in progress would settle the issue. The Strata Corporation instead received a letter threatening litigation, citing PIPA.
  • In another case, a former council member wrote the Strata demanding to be provided all correspondence undertaken by the members of the council in the years since he had stopped serving, with each other and with management, including all emails regardless of context.

From the archives of the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for BC, (“OIP”) it can be seen that PIPA can be used to try (unsuccessfully) to inhibit collecting Strata Fee arrears.

From the “Privacy Guidelines for Strata Corporations and Strata Agents: dated January 2011 (This guideline is currently being updated by the OIC and has been removed from its website)

Requests for personal information made under PIPA

It is important to note that PIPA does not give an individual the right to request and receive someone else’s personal information unless that other individual provides written authorization for that access. In addition, PIPA does not provide a right of general access to the strata corporation’s records.

Guide to the Personal Information Protection Act:

CPA Canada’s December 2014 article on Canada’s Privacy Commissioner:

BC Government information on Strata Housing:

Strata-related topics published by the OIP:


Neil Sideen is a CGA/CPA and Controller at C& C Property Group Ltd.

C & C Property Group Ltd. is a strata property management companies with clients in the metro Vancouver area




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