Strata Alert: Ugly truth about Ugly Repairs

Ugly truth about ugly repairs


Paul G. Mendes, Partner
Phone:  604-685-4894



Chan v. The Owners, Strata Plan BCS 0856 2017 BCSC 2240

Some of us learned the truth at 17: that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In a strata development, however, this truth can be unwelcome.

In this case, an owner filed a petition in BC Supreme Court objecting to the appearance of patchwork repairs outside her unit.  It all started back in 2011 when the strata undertook an exterior waterproofing project. Acting on the advice of an engineer, the strata’s contractor made 50 cut tests at random locations around the building, including one conspicuously located on an exterior wall abutting the unit owner’s balcony.  Although the cut tests and recoating’s were performed properly, the petitioner complained about the appearance of the area outside her unit, and the strata responded by having the area recoated. Dissatisfied with those results, the unit owner continued to press the council for further repairs. The strata’s engineer advised the council that the problem was purely cosmetic and that further recoating would make the situation worse. So, the owner applied to the Supreme Court for an order that the strata’s actions with respect to these repairs were “significantly unfair” to her.

The court dismissed the unit owner’s petition on two grounds: first, the court rejected the unit owner’s evidence that the repaired area on her balcony had adversely affected the market value of her unit; second, the court found that the overall evidence did not support a finding of significant unfairness towards the unit owner.

The court’s conclusion on the market value evidence is curious.  The petitioner relied on evidence from a realtor to establish that the repairs had negatively impacted the value of her unit. The Court rejected that evidence on the basis of a technicality, namely, that the evidence was not in the proper form for the admissibility of expert evidence during a trial.  This being a hearing by petition, however, the rules applicable to expert evidence at trials may not have applied in this situation. More importantly, however the court still found that the council’s handling of the matter was not significantly unfair.  On this issue, the court observed that the council had acted in good faith.  The court also took into account the fact that no other unit owners had complained about the appearance of the repairs. Viewed in this context, the court concluded that the unit owner’s expectations about the appearance of the repairs were not reasonable.

The take away from this case is that individual unit owners have few options for challenging a strata council’s repair options when a council is acting on the advice of qualified professionals. The law recognizes that a council must balance the needs and interests of the strata against the needs and interests of individual owners. Although this is a difficult balancing act, a council’s decisions are more likely to be upheld if a council is acting on the advice of professional engineers and consultants.

WHAT WE DO:  Lesperance Mendes has been advising strata corporations and strata owners on repair issues since 1997. If your strata corporation is undergoing a major repair project and the results so far are less than satisfactory, contact Paul G Mendes, Partner, at 604-685-4894 or

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE:  This article provides general information and should not be relied on without independent legal advice.