Alterations by Previous Owners

In some cases, people buy strata lots that have alterations completed by previous owners. Those alterations can include alterations to common property or limited common property. Sometimes the strata council disputes those alterations with the new owner and requires the strata lot and/or common property to be restored to its original situation. In some cases, the strata corporation will be successful but that depends on the circumstances surrounding the original alterations.

In the case of The Owners, Strata Plan VR 484 v Lawetz, 2017 BCCRT 59, the strata corporation demanded removal of washer and dryer in the owner's unit and required recovery of up to $8,000 in fines for the ongoing refusal to remove the laundry. In this case, the strata was successful in having the laundry ordered to be removed and was able to collect $4,600 of the fines (which was the amount owing when the strata started the CRT claim and was considered to be a fair amount for the breach).

How was the strata successful in making this claim against the new owner when the previous owner was the one who installed the laundry? Largely, the answer was due to the fact that the owner notified the new owner, when purchasing the strata lot, that the laundry was unauthorized and made it clear that the laundry must be removed.

Because the installation of the laundry involved alterations to the common property pipes, the original owner required approval from the strata council to install it. The owner never asked for that approval before installing it. When the strata council became aware of the laundry in the unit, they demanded that it be removed and refused to provide retroactive approval for the laundry installation: the building was so old and lacked the necessary piping to have laundry in any unit (there was a central laundry room in the building).

Therefore, because the new owner was put on notice by the strata that the laundry was illegal when he purchased the unit, the new owner was responsible for removing the laundry and had to pay the fines for the ongoing bylaw breach.



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