Strata Alert: Supreme Court of B.C. disagrees with Civil Resolution Tribunal when it comes to charging “retroactive” strata fees

Supreme Court of B.C. disagrees with Civil Resolution Tribunal when it comes to charging “retroactive” strata fees

Amanda M. Magee, Associate
Phone:  604-685-5438


Last week the Supreme Court of B.C. released its decision in 625536 B.C. Ltd. v. The Owners, Strata Plan LMS4385, 2018 BCSC 1637, providing some much-needed clarity on the question of whether a strata corporation is entitled to invoice strata fee increases retroactively in the form of “adjustments”.

In 625536 B.C. Ltd, the petitioners were the owners of a group of strata lots in a commercial strata corporation. The strata held its annual general meeting several weeks after the strata’s fiscal year-end, as many strata corporations do.  Section 40(2) of the Strata Property Act permits a strata corporation to hold its AGM up to 2 months after the end of its fiscal year. Section 104(2) of the Act says that in that interim period between the end of the fiscal year until the new budget is passed, the strata must continue charging owners the strata fees established under the previous year’s budget.

In this case the strata’s fiscal year end was June 30 and the AGM was held at the end of August. The strata began charging the owners the strata fees established under the new budget on October 1st. With that invoice, the strata set out a “lump sum adjustment” representing the difference between what had been paid in the interim months of July, August and September, and what would have been paid for those months had the new budget been approved right at the end of the fiscal year.

The petitioners argued that these retroactive adjustments were a contravention of the Act because there is nothing in the Act (or in the strata’s bylaws) that expressly or impliedly gave the strata the ability to charge fees other than those approved in the budget. They also argued that retroactive application of strata fee increases would result in an inaccurate and unreliable Information Certificate (Form B) and Certificate of Payment (Form F) if a prospective purchaser of a strata lot obtained those forms in the interim period between the end of a fiscal year and the passing of a new budget. This is the same reasoning that was used by the CRT in two decisions earlier this year: The Owners, Strata Plan NW2729 v. Haddow and The Owners, Strata Plan KAS1459 v. Leonard.

The respondent strata in this case argued that the adjustments were not an attempt to create a retroactive obligation, and that charging the adjustment is consistent with the intent and framework of the Act. Section 105(2) of the Act requires a strata corporation to eliminate a budget deficit in the next fiscal year. The strata argued that if no adjustment were made then a deficit would occur. The purpose of the adjustment is simply to collect that anticipated deficit as soon as it is known rather than having to eliminate it in the next fiscal year with an increase in fees.

The Court agreed with the strata and disagreed with the CRT, finding that the subsequent adjustment to the strata fees was not a retroactive charge. There is no requirement in the Act that strata fees be paid in equal monthly installments, and a monthly installment may include adjustments to make up a deficit between what was paid and what would have been paid had the new budget been in place at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Since the decisions of the B.C. Supreme Court are binding on the CRT, this decision effectively overrules the Tribunal’s earlier decisions with respect to strata fee adjustments and will guide any future decision of the CRT moving forward.

WHAT WE DO:  :  Lesperance Mendes has been advising strata corporations on strata governance issues since 1997. If your strata corporation requires legal advice with respect to strata governance, please contact Amanda M. Magee, Associate, at 604-685-5438 or by email at


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

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