Why a Shuswap community group is on the hook for maintenance work it didn't ask for | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why a Shuswap community group is on the hook for maintenance work it didn't ask for

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November 01, 2020 - 6:00 AM

Should you have to pay for maintenance work you benefited from but didn't ask to have done?

A Shuswap not-for-profit will have to, albeit at a reduced rate, after a misunderstanding with its tenant and an electrician landed them in small claims court.

According to an Oct. 27 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Shuswap Children's Association rented an unfinished office space from the Shuswap Family Resource and Referral Society which has an adjacent office. Its lease agreement stipulated the tenant would do all its own renovation work.

Shortly after the lease was signed in October 2018, an electrician installing lighting for the Children's Association accidentally installed ceiling and emergency lighting in the Family Resource's office as well. The mistake wasn't discovered until all of the renovation work had been completed.

The Children's Association then sent its landlord a $6,416 electricians bill for its share of the work.

The Family Resource Society refused to pay the bill stating it intended to re-use existing lights in the office and hadn't asked for the work to be done.

"(The Family Resource Society) characterized the lights installed by the applicant’s electrician as unapproved, expensive, and a leasehold improvement for which it was not responsible under the lease," reads the decision.

The two not for profit groups had several discussions about this issue, but were unable to "resolve their differences."

The Children's Association says while the bill came to $6,416, as the Civil Resolution Tribunal can only order small claims up to $5,000 it will take a loss on the extra money.

The Family Resource Society says its contractor estimated the cost to install its existing lighting would be between $500 and $1,500 and said it's not responsible for the mistake the Children's Association's electrician made.

The Tribunal agreed with the Family Resource Society that it does not owe $5,000 for work it didn't ask to be done. However, the Tribunal also says the Family resource Centre has benefited from the work being done.

"I find that this is an appropriate case to apply the principle of quantum meruit, which means value for the work done," the decision says.

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled that as the Family Resource Society had quotes for $1,500 to re-use its old lighting it should therefore pay its tenant $1,500 for the work that was done accidentally but it still benefits from.

The Shuswap Family Resource and Referral Society now have 30 days to pay the Shuswap Children’s Association $1,618, which includes tax and interest.

CORRECTION: This story was corrected at 2:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The original story said the Shuswap Children's Association was the landlord and not the tenant.


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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