Canadian Underwriter

Why a strata corporation is on the hook for restoration costs in individual unit

May 12, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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A strata corporation that tried to charge a unit owner $1,260 in water damage restoration costs has lost its case before the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal.

In July 2019, an outdoor water tap failed, causing water to enter a wall between Bryan Hooper’s strata lot and a neighbour’s lot.

The strata corporation hired a restoration firm to bring in dehumidifiers, fans and special drying pads. The restoration firm invoiced the strata corporation $1,260, which the strata corporation then charged to Hooper.

Hooper disputed the charge and took his case to the CRT, which reversed the charge in its ruling in Hooper v. The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 1121, released May 8.

Hooper had replaced his carpet floor with engineered hardwood while the neighbouring unit still had the original carpet. The strata corporation argued it was necessary to dry Hooper’s floor and that Hooper’s floor was a “betterment” installed by the owner. Hooper, as the owner, countered that he did not give the strata corporation permission to hire the restoration firm to dry his floor.

BCCRT member Chad McCarthy found the strata corporation did not have a bylaw giving it the authority to charge the restoration work to Hooper’s unit. The strata does have a bylaw making the strata lot owner liable to the strata corporation for damage caused by water originating from within an owner’s strata lot — up to the strata’s insurance deductible. But that same bylaw also says an owner is not responsible for water ingress from outside the strata lot. The outdoor water tap that caused the ingress is on common property, McCarthy found.

The strata corporation argued that had the restoration firm not brought in the drying equipment, there could have been significant damage to the floor.

The strata provided the Civil Resolution Tribunal with a photo of a handheld moisture detector on a wooden floor, displaying “999.” But McCarthy found the evidence does not include a description of the units measured by the detector, nor does it explain the significance of the “999” reading.

There is also no evidence from the restoration firm, or from a floor restoration expert, saying the floor would have been damaged had it not been dried, McCarthy found.

In addition to reversing the charges to Hooper’s unit, McCarthy ordered the strata corporation to pay Hooper $225 for tribunal fees plus post-judgment interest.

The evidence does not show the leak caused, or would have caused, any damage to the structure of the building underneath the floor or to common property below the floor, McCarthy found.

He added in that particular strata complex, the owner is responsible for maintaining the strata lot floor and repairing any damage. But nothing in the bylaws let the strata corporation charge the owner for work the strata corporation decided to do in the owner’s unit.

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1 Comment » for Why a strata corporation is on the hook for restoration costs in individual unit
  1. Sylvia Harrison says:

    Really? They publish this story? The strata corporation (as the property manager and strata council were aware) didn’t have a case here. The objective of this legal action was to be able to take money from the trust account (the strata corporation would probably have paid a lawyer). The trust account (of the strata corporation) is responsible for paying legal fees and the lawyer can pay “referral fees” to the members of the strata council and the property manager. You can’t sue the strata council for “over-spending”. This is an incentive to take a case regardless of how unnecessary the legal action is. Funny, though that this story was published, and the one with the two condo owners were forced to sell their home for minimum amounts of money was completely ignored by the media. Ah, welcome to Canada.

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