If you're on a condo board or strata council, you likely know how easy it is to accumulate documents. Some are important records you need to safeguard; others just feel important. But they all need a home. Where do you store yours?
As a board member, you are responsible for the organization and accuracy of day-to-day records – which may include bank accounts, legal documents, depreciation reports, contracts with vendors, tax records and more (In BC, See Strata Property Act – Section 35). As a board member, you also have a responsibility to owners. Owners have the right to request and see – minus a few exceptions – most of your condo corporation's records (In BC, See Strata Property Act – Section 36).
Often, board members employ management companies to keep these records, or one member may store them on his personal computer.
And although we hate to think about it, sometimes, bad things happen. A fire destroys your building. A winter storm floods your neighbourhood. A board member dies. A board member moves to another state or province. An argument ensues between members.
When such events happen, property owners may find themselves scrambling to find important records – such as insurance documents. Records can, and often do, become temporarily (or in some cases, permanently) lost – adding stress to an already difficult situation.
An online storage solution can help condo boards prepare for emergencies and unforeseen events. It also helps in their adherence to state or provincial laws by ensure sensitive legal documents are easily accessible and centrally located. And, it helps ease the transition for board members at election time.
When it comes to document storage solutions, many options are available. Some condo boards hire property managers who maintain and store files; others research and sign up for cloud storage; and many sign up with companies, like eStrata, who offer web-based condo solutions (including permission-based document storage and email notifiers when documents are uploaded).
Though it sounds weather related, the term “cloud storage” actually refers to saving data to an off-site storage facility maintained by a third party. Instead of storing information to your computer's hard drive or to a local storage device, you save it to a remote database. Many services store data to the cloud, including email hosting, webmail services like Gmail and Hotmail and file storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
Cloud service providers don’t always say where their servers are located. The location of data can change, and backups are usually stored at multiple locations. In Canada, PIPEDA and PIPA do not require private institutions to use Canadian based servers to store their data (documents or emails), but if you opt to use cloud storage, you may want to notify residents, ensure adequate safeguards are in place, and look for a service provider that is deemed safe and that has strict security protocols.
If you need additional information or would like help setting up a condo website, contact eStrata today.