The short answer is yes: in certain circumstances council can require access to your strata lot and you can be penalized if you don’t grant that access.
In the two cases of Lorenz v The Owners, Strata Plan NW 2001, 2017 BCCRT 65 and The Owners, Strata Plan K 77 v Bourgault du Coudray, 2017 BCCRT 105, the main issue was whether the owner in each case was required to provide the strata council with access to the owner’s strata lot.
In the first case, the strata council was seeking entry into a strata lot to investigate the cause of two water leaks into a strata unit below. The owner refused the strata representative entry and the strata council levied fines against the owner for denying access.
In the second case, the owner had a leaking shower diverter and demanded that the strata repair the damage and the leaking diverter. Initially the owner gave access to the unit to investigate and repair the issue. However, resolving the issue required further investigation and there became a dispute between the strata council and the owner as to what representatives of the strata council were permitted in the unit during the investigations. The owner eventually denied the strata entry.
In both cases, the strata corporation had bylaws that required the owners to provide strata council with access to investigate the strata lots.
In the first case, by refusing access, the CRT upheld the fines against the owner, as the owner was required to provide access and failed to do so.
In the second case, the strata had to repair the diverter, the owner had to provide the strata with access and the owner was denied its loss of use claim.
Many owners believe that they have the ability to deny the strata council access to their strata lot. However, depending on the bylaws and the situation, the strata council can demand access to any strata lot and failure to do so can result in fines. As always, an owner needs to review their bylaws to determine their rights in these situations.