November 30, 2017 by Canadian Underwriter
A strata corporation is partly on the hook for water damage to a condo unit arising from a buildup of water in a dryer vent, but there is no indication the damage is covered by the strata company’s insurance.
Adding to the complication, it is not clear whether a booster fan intended to prevent the problem is common property, British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal noted in a ruling released Tuesday.
Angela McKellar and Stephen Thorne own and live in a strata lot in an 11-storey building. They took the strata corporation to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between strata corporations and unit owners. McKellar and Thorne wanted to have their booster fan replaced, their dryer vent repaired, and for the tribunal to order the strata corporation to fix the water damage.
“There is no evidence to suggest the damage is covered by the strata’s insurance,” tribunal vice chair Garth Cambrey wrote in his ruling released Nov. 29, 2017.
“Neither party advanced arguments regarding whether the booster fan is a common asset,” as defined in the B.C. Strata Property Act, Cambrey added.
He found the residents 75% responsible for the damage and mould remediation to their unit, with the strata responsible for the other 25%. He also ordered the strata corporation to clean the vent once a year and take responsibility for repairing and maintaining the booster fan.
He found strata corporation was negligent in addressing the dryer vent issues but that the residents contributed to their loss because it took them too long to notify the strata corporation of water in their dryer.
McKellar and Thorne bought their lot in 2004. Their dryer vent runs through a slab forming the boundary between their lot and the lot above them. The vent exits in their balcony soffit.
Also in 2004, a contractor told the strata corporation, among other things, that the vents were “too long for the dryer to push the air to the outside” and this was causing water to build up. The contractor recommended installing booster fans. The strata council decided the onus was on the unit owners to install the fans.
A fan was not installed in McKellar’s unit until 2009. Five years later, she emailed the property manager complaining of a problem with the dryer vent and asking that the booster fan be repaired. In 2015, McKellar told the property manager there was so much condensation that water was running back through the vent and into the dryer.
McKellar and Thorne “admit that they were told” by a contractor around May of 2015 “that there was water in their dryer vent and chose not to bring this to the attention of the strata until several months later in November 2015,” Cambrey found.
I have owned and live in my condo for just over 2 years. I am on the top floor of a 2 story building. My clothes seemed to take a long time too dry. I visited my sister in her new (to her) condo, she bought a brand new dryer that was smart enough to not start due to an error code that showed not enough air was going through her duct system. Sure enough we took her transition duct off and found it packed with lint. This lead me to investigate my own dryer vent. Low and behold I have no transition vent. The vent goes from my dryer up through the ceiling through the attic and out through the exit vent to outside.
1.No transition vent
2. The entire duct is made of the thin flexible aluminum that is meant for transition. It cannot be cleaned or a rip could occur.
3. Attic is not insulated (I live in Ontario Canada) which creates condensation in vent
4. I attic vent runs for about 5.5 ft. Slopes up around 2 feet, does a 90 degree turn. Runs down for about 2.5 feet. Does a sharp 45 degree turn (kinking) at the exit vent.
I contacted my property manager and was told this was my responsibility to rectify. The unit beside me has a shorter run to exit, but is made of same improper material and has no transition vent as well. I am assuming all of the units are the same. Many of the units here are rentals. The president of the board owns majority of units. He will not fix his units unless forced to do so.
I am waiting for the municipal government to get back to me here if this can be enforced. If they say it is out of their hands should I contact our condos insurance company?