Section 131 of the Strata Property Act permits the strata corporation to recover from an owner the cost of remedying a bylaw contravention. This is a very broadly worded section and, depending on the breach, can result in significant charge backs to an owner who has breached the bylaws.
In the case of The Owners, Strata Plan NW 2170 v Broadbent, 2017 BCCRT 114, an owner had made structural changes to her strata lot without permission of the strata council as required in the bylaws: she had widened a doorway in her unit and altered a structural beam to do so. As a result of the changes, the strata council was concerned that the owner had compromised the structural integrity of the roof of her strata lot.
The strata council hired an engineer to inspect the owner’s alterations. The engineer concluded that the alterations were properly done and there were no structural concerns. However, there was still the issue of whether the owner should pay for the cost of the engineer inspection and the fines the council levied against her for making alterations without asking.
The CRT concluded that the owner clearly breached the bylaws: completing renovations without obtaining prior approval was a breach (of a bylaw that most strata corporations have). As a result of the breach, the CRT concluded that the inspection report was necessary for the strata corporation to obtain which had a duty to ensure that the renovation project hadn’t compromised the structure of the building and strata lot. The cost of that report was properly payable by the owner under section 131 of the Act as the cost of remedying the bylaw contravention. As a result, the owner had to pay the strata $2,461 as the cost of the engineering report.
However, the CRT did not permit the strata council to recover the fines issued because they failed to follow the required procedure under section 135 of the Act.