Penticton neighbours' petty dispute over locked gate ends up in court | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton neighbours' petty dispute over locked gate ends up in court

Image Credit: PEXELS

A petty dispute between two Penticton neighbours over a key to a gate to access their shared backyard has ended up in legal action.

According to a May 12, B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision the two neighbours got into the dispute because Karen Seibel refused to give the key to a locked gate to her neighbour Trina Murray.

The gate accesses a piece of common property on the two-unit strata lot where the neighbours live.

What appears to make the situation more complicated is the two neighbours are the only members of the strata, so their dispute can't be easily rectified with a strata council vote.

Dismayed that Seibel refused to hand over the key, Murray took her neighbour to the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Murray argued Seibel had no right not to give her the key as the gate accessed a shared yard.

According to the decision, Seibel didn't deny she refuses to give Murray the key but said she will let her through the gate if she was asked.

Seibel also didn't dispute the area surrounding the duplex is common property.

However, she still argued she should not have to remove the lock from the gate because it's on "her" side of the backyard.

According to the decision, Murray had an informal agreement with the old owner of Seibel's unit whereby they split the yard between the two of them and divided it with a fence which prevented Murray from accessing the gate. Sometime after Seibel moved in, Murray removed the fence.

The Tribunal found that regardless of these facts Murray had never formally given up her right to use the gate.

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According to the decision, Murray had on occasion placed her own padlock on the gate to prevent Seibel from using it.

After this happened Seibel sent Murray an email.

"What gives you the right and by what authority do you have to deny us any access from the common property to the lane?" the email read.

The Tribunal points out this is essentially the same argument Murray used to ask for a key.

Photo evidence used in the dispute showed that Murray had cut off the padlock "more than once." Seibel replaced it each time.

The decision said the neighbours' relationship has been "difficult."

The court document said the police were called because of an incident between the two but didn't go into details.

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Seibel argued the gate needed to be locked for security reasons.

"But I find that does not affect whether Ms. Murray is entitled to a key to that lock," the Tribunal ruled.

Unsurprisingly, the strata found that Seibel's refusal to hand over a key "unreasonably interfered" with Murray's right to use the common property and ordered Seibel to cut her a key.

Murray also argued for the Tribunal to order that two gates be installed on either side of the back fence and for the two neighbours to split the $3,500 cost. Seibel opposed the idea.

Murray also requested the Tribunal order the common property be reclassified as a Limited Common Property designation and filed with the Land Title Office.

However, the Tribunal refused to order both items, pointing to strata legislation that mandated strata councils had to have a three-quarter majority vote on such issues.

As Murray and Seibel are the only two strata council members it appears their feud may continue.

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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