A topic that comes up often is whether the strata corporation has adequately repaired its common property. This came up in the case of Rueger v The Owners, Strata Plan VR 319, 2017 BCCRT 80.
The strata corporation had heating cables in its roadway, that were installed when the strata corporation was built 40 years ago. In the 40 years since, the heating cables started to fail and needed to be replaced completely if they were to work again. The cost of replacement was at least $120,000. The owners, at three separate Special General Meeting did not approve the expenditure to replace the coils.
In response, the strata corporation implemented a snow clearing program to clear snow and salt the roads and sidewalks.
Several owners were dissatisfied with the snow clearing program and wanted the heating cables replaced, saying that the strata corporation had failed its obligation to repair and maintain the common property heating cables.
The CRT acknowledged that there are always ‘good, better, best’ options when it comes to repairs and maintenance, and that strata corporations are not bound to the ‘best’ repair option:
Each option must be considered in context, with a view to its cost, impact on the owners and with a view to achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of owners. Necessary repair and maintenance must be implemented within a budget that the owners can afford and which balance their competing interests.
The CRT then found that the strata’s alternative maintenance program was sufficient to maintain the roadways and was not required to replace the heating cables:
This less expensive option reflects a fair balance between the competing interests of the owners in ensuring that reasonable safety measures are taken, that the common property is not subject to loss or damages, and that the costs associated with maintaining the roads are minimized.
This decision is interesting in that the strata corporation was not required to repair and maintain the common property heating cables even though there was no 3/4 vote under section section 71 to change the common property. This suggests that the CRT will accept a common sense response to the repair and maintenance obligations of a strata corporation – and considered that the actual common property being maintained was the roadway – not the cables.