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Owners’ Corporation Law - October 2017

05 Oct 2017

The times they are a-changin’

By Tom Bacon

If you’re a baby boomer serving on your owners’ corporation (OC) committee, you may have already begun noticing a shift in the characteristics and tendencies of your fellow members and neighbours:

Don’t call me, just email or text.  Can I pay my levies online?  Our community needs to “go green”!  Do we have a Facebook page?

These are just a few of the comments and questions you may have heard from the younger generation of millennials within your OC. Defining the generations (all age ranges and numbers are estimates):

Baby boomers are the demographic born roughly between the mid 1940s thru the mid 1960s and make up approximately 24 per cent of the population. One of the defining characteristics of baby boomers is a strong work ethic;

Generation X are the demographic born roughly between the mid 1960s through the late 1970s and make up about 13 per cent of the population. One of the defining characteristics of Gen Xers is entrepreneurship; and

Millennials are the demographic born roughly between the late 1970s and mid 1990s and make up approximately 22 per cent of the US population. One of the defining characteristics of millennials is an affinity for technology.

Whether you’re ready or not, OCs need to start preparing for a generational shift.  Over the next 10 years, millennials will possibly overtake baby boomers in terms of home ownership percentage. 

As a result, OCs will start to change to reflect the attitudes/wants/needs/personalities of their members. 

So how can your community bridge the generational gap?

The following list, although far from exhaustive, contain a few useful tips to help your OC do this:

The literal “bridge” between the baby boomers and the millennials is generation X. Gen X’ers within your committee may prove a useful resource in relating to the both younger and older community members;

Seek input and participation from representatives of each group. Even if your committee does not include a particular generational representative, make an effort to include members of each group in the decision-making process;

The “notice” conundrum. Many of our clients, especially those with younger committee members, are eager to shift towards electronic notices, voting, etc.  Although this can be convenient for most, the OC needs to careful that (1) it is complying with the applicable Victorian laws; and (2) that the minority (those who do not use computers or email) are still accounted for, i.e. hard copies are not yet a thing of the past;

Plan ahead. For larger initiatives that appeal to millennials, such as “Green” initiatives or electric car parking, the community will need to take a longer-term approach to ensure that such initiatives have the support of the community and are budgeted for appropriately; and

Delegate wisely. If members of the OC are eager for a stronger online presence, appoint a computer savvy millennial to head a social media campaign.

Understand and embrace the generational differences in your community. A “my way or the highway” attitude will almost never result in a positive outcome.

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