In my December 2, 2016 post Owner vs Strata Corporation, I noted how I successfully represented an owner in suing a strata corporation for improper bylaw enforcement. The CRT has followed this decision in its decision of Biddle v The Owners, Strata Plan NWS 1670, 2017 BCCRT 34.
Biddle dealt with an issue wherein the strata council claimed $11,000 from an owner for increased water usage bills. The strata corporation had been experiencing a higher than normal water bill for some time. The strata council believed it was due to the owner’s son turning on a hot water tap and letting it run for hours on end. As a result of the strata council’s beliefs, the council sent a demand letter to the owner for:
Inv #224. Orig Amount $11,000
Compensation for extraordinary water usage Aug/12-Nov/14 per Bylaw 4.4
Bylaw Infraction Fine $11,000
The strata council was unable to produce the noted invoice.
The CRT noted that the strata corporation didn’t send the owner particulars of a bylaw infraction complaint, didn’t offer a hearing and didn’t take any steps to warn the owner of the alleged breach of the bylaws before claiming the $11,000 from the owner.
The CRT noted that section 135 of the Strata Property governs bylaw enforcement and specifically referred to the Terry decision:
In Terry v The Owners, Strata Plan NW 309, 2016 BCCA 449, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered these sections of the SPA. The court accepted that for a fine or a requirement to pay the costs of remedying a bylaw contravention to be validly imposed that the owner or tenant must be given, in advance of the fine or the requirement to pay, notice of the complaint particulars and an opportunity to be heard. If the requirements of section 135 of the SPA are not met before the fine or requirement to pay is imposed then they are invalid and must be set aside.
The strata corporation in this case didn’t provide any evidence that it had provided prior notice to the owner of the complaint, alleged bylaw contravention, of any proposed fine, or of any requirement to pay to remedy the contravention. As a result, the CRT followed the Terry decision as set aside the $11,000 charge as invalid.