Recovering Fines for Breaching an Age Restriction Bylaw

In two recent decisions regarding the same parties, a strata corporation has taken steps to enforce its age restriction bylaws against an owner who was below the age limit and continued to reside in the strata lot.

In the case of The Owners, Strata Plan NWS 3075 v. Stevens, 2017 BCSC 1306 (not available), the strata corporation asked the court to confirm that the owner was breaching its age bylaw, and then sued the owner again in The Owners, Strata Plan NW 3075 v. Stevens, 2018 BCPC 2 to collect the fines.

The issue started when the owner's mother passed away and the strata lot was inherited by the owner. The owner was only 45 when she moved into the strata lot and the strata corporation had the following bylaw:
Each strata lot is reserved for occupancy by a person 55 years of age or older. 
A person, excluding a spouse, under the age of 55 years shall not be permitted to reside in a strata lot. 
The owner sought permission to live in the strata lot. Permission was denied. The strata even took the issue to the next AGM to seek permission from all owners for the new owner to reside in the strata lot. The owners voted against the resolution. As a result, the strata corporation continued enforcing the bylaws and started levying fines.

As a result of the first decision, the Court found that the owner had been residing in the strata lot in contravention of the bylaws. Subsequently, the strata corporation sought to collect the sun of $16,688.63 in fines from the owner.

The Provincial Court noted that the strata corporation had followed the procedure as set out in section 135 of the Strata Property Act.

Further, the Court noted:
Fairness requires that this case must be decided according to the law. The law should not be contorted, regardless of the fact that sympathies lie on both sides. With the benefit of hindsight, the Defendant probably would have been better off is she had found a realtor and listed the property after it became clear that a substantial majority of the owners of this strata did not wish to give up their right to reside in a building occupied by persons who were 55 years or older. They were not unreasonable in wanting to do so. This is what they paid for when they bought their units, and it must seem unfair to them that one person could unilaterally deny them this right. The other owners (or at least those among them who are reasonable) were willing to play by the rules when it came to respecting the outcome of the Vote at the Annual General Meeting and the Defendant should also have done so. 
 As a result, the Court awarded the strata corporation fines of $200 per week for 67 weeks for a total of $13,400 against the owner for continuing to breach the bylaws.





TAEYA FITZPATRICK

Taeya Fitzpatrick has specialized in strata law for most of her practice, has won cases for her clients in the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal, and assisted with a client succeeding in defending a Civil Resolution Tribunal claim. Taeya offers full services to a strata corporation or a strata owner from redrafting the strata’s bylaws, collection of outstanding strata fees or other charges, issues with bylaw enforcement, to amending the strata plan. For more information on the services provided, you can reach Taeya by email, phone: 250-762-6111, or at her Web Page

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