BC Supreme Court Orders Troublesome Strata Owner to Sell Her Unit

The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2768 v. Jordison, 2012 BCSC 31

In November of 2010, we notified the profession about the decision of the Ontario Supreme Court in Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 747 v. Korolekh, 2010 ONSC 4448. In that case, an owner with a long history of abusing and threatening her neighbors was ordered to sell and vacate her unit.

The Supreme Court of BC has now made a similar order, but with a twist. Under the order, the owner must list her property for sale within 30 days. If the owner does not sell her property within 90 days, the strata corporation may apply for the conduct of the sale. Finally, after 90 days or if the owner breaches the order, the Strata Property Act (SPA) or the Strata Corporation’s bylaws, the strata corporation may apply to the court for vacant possession of the strata lot (i.e. an eviction).

The facts of this case, while disturbing, are not that unusual. Ms. Jordison and her teenaged son acquired title to their strata lot in 2008. Soon after, they turned on their neighbors and started a campaign of verbal abuse against many of the other owners. The strata corporation wrote several warning letters and issued $30,000.00 in fines, all with no effect. As often happens in these cases, Ms. Jordison denied the allegations and threatened to sue the strata corporation if it did not stop harassing her and her son. She even filed a human rights complaint, alleging that her son had autism. The human rights complaint went no further when she could not produce any medical evidence to support her claim.

This case is significant for its endorsement of eviction and sale as a proper remedy under SPA 173. It should be noted, however, that the owners did not respond to the petition or appear at the hearing, although they were duly served.

The case is also significant because the strata corporation was not granted judgment on the fines. The court affirmed the principles set out in earlier case law that fines are meant to be a bylaw enforcement toll and not a penalty. The court commented that the strata corporation should have taken other steps to enforce the bylaw, such as an injunction application, before allowing the fines to accumulate as they did. This is a surprising outcome, in my view, given that the owners did not even bother to oppose the application or attend the hearing.

What we do: Lesperance Mendes advises strata corporations and owners on matters such as construction defects, warranty claims, bylaw enforcement and collections. We have also successfully represented strata corporations to obtain injunctions and significant fines against troublesome owners (see: The Owners, Strata Plan LMS3259 v. Sze Hang Holding Inc., 2009 BCSC 473 and The Owners Strata Plan VR 2000 v. Grabarczyk, 2006 BCSC 1960). For more information about our strata law practice, contact Paul G. Mendes at 604-685-4894 or by email at pgm@lmlaw.ca.

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