B.C. couple wins fight with strata over 'unacceptable' repairs

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Assessment

A Lower Mainland strata corporation that held onto $2,000 to cover damages to a garage door after the owners sold the townhouse, has been ordered to pay the money back.

The strata had argued that the repairs that the former owners had done were "unreasonable" and under its bylaw ordered the notary dealing with the sale to pay the strata $2,000 to cover the costs.

However, the former owners, Rachel Springman and Tyler Juulsen took Strata Plan EPS1867 to the Civil Resolution Tribunal arguing they had repaired the garage door adequately and the strata had no right to keep their money.

According to an April 1 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, the strata had offered to give $1,100 back to the couple, as it had spent $900 fixing the door.

READ MORE: Poorly worded bylaw sees Kelowna condo owners lose strata dispute

But Springman and Juulsen persisted with their case at the online tribunal.

According to the decision, the couple sold their Chilliwack townhouse in May 2020 and notified the strata about the pending sale the next day.

The strata then inspected the home and told the couple the garage door was common property and needed fixing.

The couple then attempted to remove dents in the garage door and repainted it.

However, the strata said the work was "unacceptable" and had not been repaired to the "strata council’s satisfaction."

The strata said it would be holding back $2,000 from the sale of the townhouse to "rectify" the damaged garage door.

READ MORE: Why a pandemic isn't a good enough reason for B.C. strata councils to make quick changes

Weeks after the house was sold, the strata invoiced the couple for $900 for the cost of fixing the door and offered to refund the remaining $1,100.

The couple argued the definition of repair is to "restore a damaged, broken device to its original intent" which they had done and that they shouldn't be held to a higher standard of perfection. They argued the damage to the garage door was minor and their repairs were adequate to satisfy any responsibilities they had under the strata's bylaws.

The decision says multiple photographs of the repairs were submitted, although the couple says the strata submitted photos of a different damaged garage door on a different home. They pointed to different sidings on the property as evidence.

"Since the strata did not respond to this allegation, I find the strata’s two photographs were not of the applicants’ garage door and give them no weight," the Tribunal ruled.

The Tribunal then goes onto assess whether the couple's repairs of the garage door were adequate.

"The standard is not perfection, but reasonableness,' the Tribunal said.

"I find an owner should not be held to a higher standard than a strata corporation. While the best solution may be to replace the garage door, I find the repairs were reasonable. I find the photographs show nominal damage to the garage door and there is no evidence that it is not functioning properly," the Tribunal ruled. "I find that the applicants’ repairs would not adversely affect other owners."

With that, the Tribunal ordered the strata to pay Springman and Juulsen the $2,000 it had been withholding from them. It also leaves the strata on the hook for the $900 it paid to have the doors professionally repaired.

READ MORE: Neighbours seek $1K in B.C. strata dispute over squirrel feeding


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