May 12, 2020 by Greg Meckbach
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.
Feature image via iStock.com/gaiamoments