Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jul 2012
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Tony Gioventu
Note: Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners'


Q - What do you do when a strata lot owes the strata corporation 
$50,000 but the strata cannot collect it? We are an 18-unit townhouse 
complex in East Vancouver and a grow op was discovered last fall.

The police and the city were involved and the owner was ordered to 
effect the repairs. The units on both sides were damaged, as well as 
the offending strata lot. Because we have grow-op coverage on our 
insurance policy, the owner requested we file a claim, which we did, 
and agreed to pay the $50,000 deductible.

Unfortunately, we did not get this in writing, and we did not file a 
lien for the deductible amount. We were also unaware that the owner 
was in default of his mortgage payments, so his bank is foreclosing 
on his strata lot. It has advised us that it will not pay the 
deductible amount because it was not lienable under the act.

Are the remaining 17 owners expected to cover the loss of the $50,000 
because the bank had a bad client? Luckily, we had enough saved in 
the contingency for our roof, but now we are looking at special 
levies for a roof replacement.

Jerrit F.

A - Grow ops and meth labs are a nasty problem for multi-family 
buildings. In addition to the grow op, all the adjacent units - 
sometimes including entire buildings - are contaminated, requiring 
major restoration before they can be occupied again.

The bank is correct in that the strata corporation cannot lien for an 
insurance deductible; however, in your case the strata corporation 
covered a cost directly created by the owner and their tenant.

You need to consult a strata lawyer to figure out your options and to 
negotiate with the bank.

Generally, when a strata corporation identifies a grow op or meth 
lab, it wants to make sure it is in communication with the bylaws 
officer of the local city or district office to confirm it is 
included with the order for repairs and restoration.

This is also a good time for legal advice to ensure that all possible 
damages and risks associated with the contravention are included in 
the order to repair.

If the strata corporation is included with the order to repair, under 
section 84 of the Strata Property Act, if the owner fails to do the 
required work, the strata corporation has the ability to do the 
required work, and may file a lien for the reimbursement of the cost 
of the work done under the repair order.

It is important to confirm the details with every party in writing. 
Many disputes are quickly resolved when a reliable record is produced.

The other side of drug labs that is more important is prevention. 
Strata corporations have the ability to routinely inspect strata lots 
for maintenance purposes.

The annual inspections of the interior of strata lots to address 
drainage issues, mould, window performance or plumbing will achieve 
both a better maintenance program and become a routine deterrent to drug labs.

If a tenant or owner does not provide access, enforce your bylaws. It 
may also be an indication of greater problems in a strata lot of 
unauthorized alterations or drug labs if there is absolute refusal.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom