Strata Alert: You can lead a horse to water, but can you make it follow a Civil Resolution Tribunal Order?

You can lead a horse to water, but can you make it follow a Civil Resolution Tribunal Order?

By Paul G. Mendes and Alex J. Chang


Paul G. Mendes, Partner                                                              Alex J. Chang, Associate
Phone:  604-685-4894                                                                  Phone:  604-685-1255
Email:                                                               Email:


The Owners, Strata Plan VR812 v. Yu, 2019 BCSC 693

Although the Civil Resolution Tribunal has been around for a while, many council members and strata owners still believe that the CRT process is voluntary and that CRT orders are not binding on the parties. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

CRT proceedings are voluntary, only in the sense that claimants have a choice as to whether to bring a CRT claim or not. However, they have limited choice over whether to bring a claim in the CRT or the Supreme Court.  The CRT has broad jurisdiction over strata claims. The court may even force parties to adjudicate their claims in the CRT unless the claim clearly falls within a category of strata claims that fall outside the CRT’s jurisdiction or it is not in the interests of justice and fairness for the CRT to decide the claim.

Respondents also have no choice but to respond to a CRT claim or risk that the CRT will make a default order against them.

But are CRT orders binding? Yes they are, and in The Owners, Strata Plan VR812 v. Yu, the BC Supreme Court provides a detailed review of the court’s power when a person fails to obey a CRT order.

You may remember this case, which was heavily reported in the media. According to reports, Ms. Yu advertised her North Vancouver townhouse unit as the “Oasis Hostel” since 2016, and her unit could (and often did) accommodate up to 15 guests at a time. Eventually fed up, the strata corporation ordered Ms. Yu to shut down her operation and pay the strata thousands of dollars in fines.  When that did not work, the strata applied to the CRT for judgment on the fines and an injunction to stop Ms. Yu from operating her business in violation of the bylaws. The CRT decided the case in the strata’s favour, and Ms. Yu’s eventual appeal of the CRT was dismissed.

Ms. Yu decided to ignore the CRT order and continued renting out her unit as short term rental.  The strata registered the CRT order as a judgment on her strata lot, effectively converting the CRT order into the equivalent of a court order. When that did not stop Ms. Yu from breaking the bylaws the strata corporation applied to the Court to have Ms. Yu held in contempt of court and for an order that she be compelled to sell her strata lot.

Ms. Yu was held in contempt for breaching the order but the court delayed the determination of the appropriate punishment to give Ms. Yu a final opportunity to cease breaching the order.  In the intervening time, Ms. Yu paid all of her outstanding fines to the strata corporation and ceased renting her unit as a short term rental.

The court accepted at the sentencing hearing that general deterrence in relation to others like Ms. Yu that do not respect the CRT’s process or orders, “required that the integrity of the CRT process be upheld by an appropriate denunciation order”. However, the court considered it an important mitigating factor that when given a final opportunity to comply with the order, she did so. As a result, the court ordered that she pay a $5,000 fine and adjourned the strata’s conduct for the sale of the unit. The court stated if she had not come into compliance it would likely have imposed a jail sentence instead. Ms. Yu was also ordered to pay all of the strata’s reasonable legal costs and implied that if she failed to do so then the strata could reapply for conduct of the sale of her unit.

The Yu case affirms that failure to comply with CRT orders filed with the court will at least be met with hefty cost and fine consequences. Where an owner seems incapable of complying with an order, then the court will mete out more severe punishments like incarceration or the sale of the strata lot.


WHAT WE DO:  Lesperance Mendes has considerable experience in bylaw enforcement and defence.  If you have an unresolved bylaw enforcement issue at your strata, please contact Paul G. Mendes, partner, at 604-685-4894 or by email at or Alex J. Chang, associate, at 604-685-1255 or by email at

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