New tribunal aims to streamline resolutions for strata disputes
30 November 2016
“How do we get our council to….” This is the opening line to the many
thousands of emails and letters our offices receive every month.
Ever since the first strata was filed in B.C. back in the mid 1960s,
strata councils, owners, tenants and occupants have struggled with the
challenges of accessible justice. The cost was not the only barrier
that prevented many strata corporations and owners from taking action
when there rights were violated, or the strata bylaws were breached or
the strata had to try and collect a large sum of money.
Before a strata could commence an action in the Supreme Court of B.C.
or give notice of arbitration to order an owner, tenant or occupant to
comply with the bylaws or stop doing something, it had to convene a
general meeting of the owners, approve the action by three-quarters
vote and approve the funding for the action. Either way, the strata
owners often rejected the action because of the potential cost, which
could easily reach $50,000 and may have taken 24 months or longer.
While all of these procedures were underway with little hope of
proceeding any further, owners and councils were plagued by chronic
nuisance problems, unauthorized alterations or activities that put the
residents and property at risk, or chronic non-compliance with the act
or bylaws of the strata.
While a noise complaint from an unauthorized flooring installation
seems trivial for many of us, it is a nightmare for the neighbours who
have to live with the consequences. Likewise, a strata council that is
not complying with the act and refusing to disclose financial
information may be leading a community down the path of financial
The solution now in full effect and operation is the Civil Resolution
Tribunal of B.C. Along with the introduction of the CRT under the B.C.
justice system, the public is also the beneficiary of significant
changes in procedures for dispute resolution.
The CRT is an online system that returns the justice system back into
the hands of the public and provides a cost-effective, speedy
resolution to the common day-to-day issues for strata corporations.
Strata councils can now file CRT action by a simple majority vote of
the council for the enforcement of bylaws and collection of debts.
The CRT is essentially an online hybrid small claims/Supreme Court that
includes the authority to enable the tribunal to order a strata
corporation, owner, tenant or their occupants to do or stop doing
something, or to pay for something without any financial limits.
There are three stages to the tribunal. First, there is the solution
explorer, which is anonymous and no cost. It’s a guided
question-and-answer process to help the users identify the nature of
their problem and provide a series of solutions including information
guides, sample letters and procedures to resolve their issue.
Failing the self-help solutions, the second stage is starting a CRT
complaint, paying a nominal fee, and involving a case manager to work
with the parties. If the parties come to a consensual solution, the
outcome can be a consent order that is binding on both the strata, the
owner, tenant and occupant.
If the parties do not agree, the matter proceeds to stage three:
adjudication with an additional fee. The adjudicator reviews the
evidence and issues a decision, which has the appearance of a mini
All of this for the parties costs a couple hundred dollars, and the
result is a binding order. There are provisions for appeal within 28
days of the decision being issued with some limitations. All of this
basically comes together for under $300 and in about 90 days.
The best news: the first decision was published on the CRT website last
week. The decision ordered an owner to cease smoking substances on the
strata property in violation of the strata bylaws. What once required a
general meeting, unrealistic voting threshold, a major expense and an
eternity for the communities is now cost efficient, timely, and easy
for anyone to start the process.
For more information go to:
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