BC Court Dismisses Claim Against Strata and Property Manager

Wong v. AA Property Management Ltd., 2013 BCSC 1551

Do you want to “throw the book” at your strata corporation? Is there an owner in your building that is threatening to take your strata corporation to court for anything and everything under the sun? The recent Supreme Court of British Columbia decision Wong v. AA Property Management Ltd., 2013 BCSC 1551 dealt with a similar scenario.

Mr. Wong was a self-represented litigant who filed a voluminous 48 page Notice of Civil Claim against strata council members, owners, the property management company and his strata corporation. Mr. Wong claimed that the defendants breached their duties under the Strata Property Act, SBC 1998, c.43 (the “Act”) by, amongst other things, installing smoking and ash bins, altering common property, installing surveillance cameras, permitting voting irregularities, not permitting access to records, making improper expense claims as well as claims for defamation and assault.

When the defendants applied to the court to have Mr. Wong’s claims dismissed, the Supreme Court held that Mr. Wong only had the standing to sue for those remedies contained in the Act, being:

• to remedy significantly unfair decisions or actions of the strata corporation or an owner holding or exercising 50% or more of the votes (section 164 of the Act);

• to direct a strata corporation to comply with its duties (section 165 of the Act);

• set aside or order compensation where a strata council member has failed to disclose a conflict of interest in an unfair or unreasonable contract or transaction that has not been ratified by a ¾ vote (section 33 of the Act); and

• to sue a third party for injury to an owner’s proportionate share of the common property (see Hamilton v. Ball, 2006 BCCA 243).

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed most of Mr. Wong’s claims, finding that:

• An owner cannot sue for matters affecting strata lots they do not own;

• an owner cannot sue a property management company for breach of its contract with the strata corporation;

• an owner cannot sue a strata council member for breach of the member’s duty to the strata corporation (unless the breach was failure to disclose a conflict of interest);

• an owner cannot sue a strata council member for unauthorized use or modification of strata corporation property;

• an owner cannot make claims against a strata corporation for making administrative decisions it has the legislative authority to make; and

• the court has no authority to impose fines against an owner.

Given the costs and complexities of litigation, Wong v. AA Property Management Ltd. is an important decision because it helps to narrow and clarify the issues for which an owner can file a claim against strata council members, other owners, property managers and strata corporations.

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes represents and advises owners, strata corporations and property managers on bylaw enforcement. For more information about our strata law practice, please contact Paul G. Mendes 604-685-4894 or by email at pgm@lmlaw.ca.

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567