Do you know what your strata corporation can and can’t order you to do?
While it may come as a surprise, but there are strict limits on the types of orders that strata councils can issue. In fact, when it comes to what owners can and can’t do, strata councils can only issue one type of order. A strata council can order an owner and their occupants, tenants, and visitors to comply with rules or bylaws. That’s it.
If an owner breaches a rule or a bylaw, the strata corporation is only allowed to the enforce the bylaws and rules through three distinct non-judicial mechanisms. The strata corporation can levy fines, conduct physical repairs or remediation and temporarily deny access to common recreational property and assets (if the rule or bylaw breach in question is related to the common property or asset). Through British Columbia’s judicial system, the strata corporation may also start an action before the Civil Resolution Tribunal or the Supreme Court in order to obtain an order that the owner comply with the rules or bylaws.
A strata council has the obligation to follow strict procedural due process requirements established by the Strata Property Act in order for any fines to be enforceable. Specifically, the strata council has to have received a complaint and has to have given the owner the details of the complaint with an opportunity to respond (either in writing or by requesting a hearing). If the owner responds, the strata council also has to issue a written decision on the matter before imposing any fine.
If a strata council unfairly targets one owner or issues orders and fines outside of the limited powers granted under the Strata Property Act, the strata corporation will very likely overstep its authority and expose itself to costly arbitration or litigation with the targeted owner.
Under the Strata Property Act, an owner may also start an action before the Civil Resolution Tribunal or petition the Supreme Court to prevent or remedy unfair actions or to force the strata corporation to stop breaching the Strata Property Act, its own bylaws or rules. Depending on the dispute, owners may also be able to launch a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.