B.C. condo owners win strata shower leak fight

Owners win strata leak fight

Two strata owners have won a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal battle against their strata, which charged them $1,682 for a leaky shower.

According to the Dec. 8 decision from tribunal member Micah Carmody, in July 2019, the strata’s contractor traced a parkade water leak to Ying Dong Xu and Tien Hua’s shower. (At the time, the pair was renting out the unit to a tenant, ML.)

A technician’s invoice noted the leak was coming from a handheld shower hose ML had installed.

Tribunal documents state there was no evidence of damage to common property and that owners need only pay for damage originating from their units to common property.

“The technicians removed the handheld showerhead and replaced it with the original showerhead. They reinstalled finishing trim around the shower diverter and applied silicone sealant in various areas in the shower,” Carmody said in his ruling.

The leak did not return and the strata was invoiced $1,682 for the investigation and repair costs.

In October 2019, the strata imposed the $1,682 chargeback on Xu and Hua's strata lot account.

The pair disputed the chargeback and refused to pay it. They argued the leak was not from their unit and that the contractor overcharged the strata.

In November, the strata told Xu, Hua and their bank that it would start a tribunal claim if they did not pay the chargeback. The decision says the bank paid the balance on Xu and Hua’s behalf and required them to reimburse the bank.

Before the tribunal, Xu and Hua argued the strata misled the bank about the alleged debt and unfairly collected it.

They sought an order that the strata remove the leak chargeback from their account. They also wanted an order that the strata pay them $1,724.21, which includes the $1,682.21 leak chargeback and a related $42 title search chargeback the strata imposed.

The strata says the chargeback was validly imposed under its bylaws after its contractors confirmed the parkade leak was from their shower.

The strata acknowledged it was out of time under the Limitation Act to recover the chargeback from Xu and Hua in November 2021. But, the strata argued, it was not responsible for educating banks on the Limitation Act or the Strata Property Act.

The strata said Xu and Hua’s dispute was with their bank, not the strata.

Carmody rejected that.

“I find the strata has been significantly unfair to the applicants and I order it to reimburse them $1,724.21 for the two chargebacks,” he said.

Carmody also said it was unfair for the strata to accept and keep the bank’s payment.

“It is also undisputed that the applicants had to reimburse BMO or risk foreclosure.”

Carmody concluded it was clear the bank misunderstood the nature of the debt the strata was claiming, and that the strata took advantage of that.

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