Strata Corporations can issue fines when an owner breaches the bylaws. At $200 an occurrence and a further $200/week for an ongoing contravention, the fines can add up fairly quickly. In the case of the Owners, Strata Plan KAS 3162 v Staerkle, 2018 BCSC 1290, the fines were in excess of $50,000.00, and the Court ordered the owner to pay the fines.
This case involved a bare land strata in Kelowna, BC. The development had a building scheme registered on each strata lot, which restricted what owners could build on their strata lot, including what materials owners were permitted to use and how their homes would look. The strata also had a bylaw that required owners to comply with the building scheme. The building scheme required all owners to have their plans approved by the developer.
The Staerkles bought one of the empty strata lots and had submitted their initial plans to the developer for approval. When they wanted to make changes, their changes were rejected. The Staerkles decided to proceed with their building plans without approval.
The strata became involved and initially attempted to help the Staerkles comply with the building scheme. When that did work, the strata found them in breach of the bylaws and started levying fines. The strata sued the Staerkles when the fines reached the sum of $54,285.42
the Court found that it was clear the owners had breached the bylaws. The Court rejected all the owners’ arguments and upheld the entire amount of fines. Specifically, the court noted that the owners were not entitled to any relief from the fines or relief from the amount:
“[The owners] knew they could not change their plans without approval . . . They proceeded in any event. .. Although the fines have accumulated to a significant amount, the property is listed for $2,495,000. The fines are a small proportion of that amount.”
It is never a prudent idea to ignore the bylaws or ignore fines as they are levied. Doing so can be a very expensive mistake as the Staerkles found out.