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BC strata found negligent, ordered to pay $14,000 over leaky wall

Image Credit: PEXELS

A BC strata has been ordered to pay a resident $14,000 after it was found to have been negligent in repairing the exterior wall of a townhouse.

According to a June 1 BC Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Rupa Deb, who owns a townhouse in the 40-year-old strata, first noticed "sagging" from her bathroom titles in late 2021.

The decision says she called a contractor who found mould in the insulation and on the exterior wall and confirmed the water was coming from outside.

Deb paid the contractor to fix the issue, who removed the mould, installed new insulation and replaced the tiles in the bathroom.

Deb then sued Strata 2033 for $32,000 arguing it was negligent because it had failed to repair and maintain the exterior walls of the building.

The decision says the law states that even if damage to a strata lot originates from an exterior wall, the strata do not have to pay to repair the damage unless it is found to be negligent.

In evidence, Deb submitted two engineering reports from specialists assessing the building's envelope.

The thorough and detailed reports found damage to the siding that would allow water into the townhouse in numerous places.

The strata disputed this.

READ MORE: BC woman paid $43,000 in lawyer fees to fight her strata

The unnamed strata council member said the engineering report was incorrect and the water had come from cracked tiles in the bathroom.

However, the Tribunal dismissed their opinion and stated there was no evidence the strata member was an expert in building construction or repair.

The strata then hired Petra Contracting who produced a report saying it couldn't find any water leak or damage after removing the exterior siding.

However, Petra Contracting is owned by Bill Petrakis who is the nephew of the strata council member and therefore not a neutral party in the dispute. The Tribunal dismissed its evidence.

READ MORE: 'Insensitive' strata ordered to pay condo owner $19,000

It also pointed out that Petra Contracting's report was vague and had no conclusion about the source of the leak.

"Most importantly," the Tribunal pointed out Petra Contracting's inspection had been done several months after work had been done to fix the issue, which the contractor made no mention of.

The Tribunal found the two expert reports indicated two big holes in the siding, many cracks, exposed plywood and other issues.

"The fact that water ingress occurred does not, in itself, establish that the strata acted unreasonably in repairing and maintaining the exterior wall," the Tribunal said. "However, I find the photos in the... (reports) establish that the strata did not repair and maintain the exterior wall to a reasonable standard."

The Tribunal highlighted that there were gaps in the siding visible to the naked eye.

"The strata has provided no evidence that it did anything to inspect or maintain the siding, despite these visible flaws," the Tribunal ruled. "The strata also provided no expert evidence to contradict (the reports) opinion that the exterior wall maintenance was inadequate."

The Tribunal ruled the strata was negligent in meeting its duty to repair and maintain the exterior wall.

However, while Deb had sued for $34,000 the strata said $12,000 was for reasonable for the bathroom renovations.

"The invoices show that the fixtures and tiles were replaced with brand-new materials. Under the legal principle of 'betterment,' people are only entitled to the value of a damaged item, not its replacement value," the Tribunal ruled.

In total, the Tribunal ordered the strata to pay Deb $14,000 to cover the costs of the engineering reports, plus fees and $410 interest.

READ MORE: B.C. strata order to pay $1,000 for ignoring noise complaint

The decision says the nephew's company has since fixed the leaking exterior wall.

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