B.C. strata spent $22,000 on lawyers, loses case over inflatable hot tub | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. strata spent $22,000 on lawyers, loses case over inflatable hot tub

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- This story was originally published Aug. 8, 2022.

A B.C. strata that spent $22,000 on lawyers has lost its case against a condo owner to remove their inflatable hot tub after the Civil Resolution Tribunal ruled the hot tub was "patio furniture" and therefore didn't break any rules.

According to an Aug. 2 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, condo owners John Emmerton and Van Ortega placed an inflatable hot tub on their rooftop patio shortly after purchasing the unit in July 2021.

However, the strata Strata Plan BCS 3407 promptly sent the couple a bylaw violation letter saying that hot tubs weren't allowed on patios.

The Vancouver strata referenced its bylaw that stated that patios could only have "plants with saucers, patio furniture, and propane or electric BBQs."

However, the couple argued their inflatable hot tub was classed as "patio furniture" and therefore allowed.

The decision said the hot tub can be inflated or deflated within about five minutes, and it is easily folded and carried by two people when deflated. The hot tub runs off a standard electrical outlet and can be easily moved to different places on the patio.

"I find it is a piece of furniture in which the applicants can sit to use and enjoy the patio. I also find that it can be placed in different locations on the patio each time it is inflated and filled," the Tribunal ruled. "So, I find it is properly considered patio furniture."

The Tribunal ruled because the hot tub was patio furniture, the couple had not broken any bylaws.

In its complaint against the condo owners, the strata also referenced its "hazards and insurance" bylaw that states: "Everyone must protect strata lots and common property from all hazards and must not do anything or fail to do anything that could present a hazard to a strata lot."

However, the couple did their homework making sure the hot tub was safe.

In evidence submitted to the Tribunal, the couple showed that before installing the hot tub they obtained an engineering report, which stated that the condo rooftop deck was strong enough to allow for a hot tub.

READ MORE: Why a B.C condo owner won't have to pay $39K in strata fines

The strata also said it was concerned about draining the tub into the building's drains.

The couple then paid $1,000 for another engineering report to determine whether the drains could take the water.

The report found the drains were totally adequate and in the event that the hot tub failed completely and flooded the patio, the building could easily cope with the water.

The strata then referenced a bylaw that stated a patio must be of "good appearance."

"I find the photographic and video evidence of the patio... shows the applicants keep it clean and tidy, and the strata has provided no evidence to the contrary," the Tribunal ruled.

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled the hot tub did not break any bylaws and ordered the strata to pay the couple $1,000 in dispute-related expenses for the second engineering report the couple obtained.

The strata argued as it had spent more than $22,000 in legal fees and it should be reimbursed.

However, the Tribunal ruled as it lost the case it wouldn't get a penny.

READ MORE: Kelowna strata issues $1,700 fine for tenants' charity car wash

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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