Hardship Exemptions from Rental Bylaws

The Strata Property Act provides a hardship exemption to owners when a rental bylaw causes hardship. In two decisions from the CRT, the CRT was tasked with the question of whether the owners were entitled to a hardship exemption.

In the decision of The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 724 v Smith, 2018 BCCRT 765, the strata wanted the owners to stop renting their strata lot and pay fines in the sum of $4,500. However, in the circumstances, the owners had asked, in writing for a hardship exemption from the rental bylaw. When the strata failed to hold a hearing in time, the owners rented their strata lot out anyway.

The CRT noted:
35. . . I find that section 144(4) of the SPA granted an automatic exemption if a strata did not hold a hearing within the mandated time of 3 weeks from an owners' request. It is undisputed that the strata did not hold a hearing despite the [owners'] request. 
. . . 
46. Accordingly, I find the [owners] are entitled to a permanent exemption from the rental bylaw. The exemption will continue for as long as the [owners], or one of them, owns their strata lot. 
Although the above noted case provided an unlimited exemption from the rental bylaw, the case of The Owners Strata Plan VR 2690 v Simpson, 2018 BCCRT 782 provided a time-limited exemption. In this case, the owner wanted a hardship exemption for two years while she was living abroad.

The owner sent her hardship request to the strata and, 20 days later (after the deadline required in the SPA) the strata denied her request. The owner rented out her strata lot on the basis that the strata didn't respond in time.

The CRT agreed with the owner. The strata had 2 weeks to respond to the owner's request. 20 days was too long. On that basis (for taking an extra 6 days to respond), the owner's hardship exemption was granted by the CRT. However, the CRT only granted a two year exemption because she only requested a two year exemption.

The owner had rented out her strata lot beyond the two years and another issue was whether she had to pay the $1,500 in fines: she did. The $1,500 in fines were levied after the 2 year exemption expired, and the owner was required to pay those fines.

These two cases show that the CRT (where decisions are not binding on other CRT cases) will determine hardship exemption requests depending on the circumstances. In the first case, the owners were granted an exemption for as long as they owned the strata lot. In the second, she was only granted an exemption for the length of her original request - 2 years.

Hardship exemptions and requests can be complicated and are always fact specific. Individuals and stratas are always encouraged to obtain independent legal advice with respect to these situations.





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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