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B.C. strata owner ordered to keep cats leashed while on common property

The off-leash bylaw had been in place since 1995.
cat in grass
The strata owner filed a complaint against her strata council, asserting it was not following its bylaws and the Strata Property Act.

A Nanaimo strata bylaw dispute that started with an argument about unleashed cats progressed to the point where the pet owner wanted one of the strata council members jailed, a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision says.

The main point of contention between Brigette Horvath and her strata council related to Horvath’s cats being on common property, unleashed, according to the July 26 decision.

“While Miss Horvath suggests that she generally supervises her cats while they are outside on common property, such as by walking near them or watching them from her strata lot, she does not dispute that she lets her cats onto common property unleashed,”  tribunal member Eric Regehr wrote.

She claimed the strata should not enforce the off-leash bylaw against her because her cats are used to being outdoor cats.

Regehr said the bylaw has been in place since 1995 but the strata did not enforce it against her until around 2019.

“I find that owners are expected to know and follow the bylaws regardless of whether they are actively enforced,” Regehr said. “I see no reason why the bylaw should not apply to Miss Horvath.”

He ordered she not allow her cats on common property unless they are leashed.

Horvath filed a complaint against her strata council, asserting it was not following its bylaws and the Strata Property Act.

Regehr did find the strata had not provided Horvath with sufficient details of the alleged bylaw breaches before imposing fines.

The strata, however, alleged Horvath “harasses its strata manager and council members with constant emails that are full of unfounded allegations of impropriety.”

Horvath wanted to be reimbursed $5,000 for time “spent overseeing the strata’s work, educating other owners about the strata’s alleged misdeeds.”

The strata counter-claimed against Horvath for $6,500 but in submissions asked for it to be increased to $9,133.94.

That partly relates to a previous tribunal decision. The strata claimed Horvath's statement of accounts as of March showed an outstanding balance of $9,133. The increase is a combination of fines, strata fees, interest, and charges associated with a lien, Regehr said.

In June 2021, the tribunal ordered Horvath to pay the strata $5,279 to cover costs after a bathtub overflow in her unit.

Regehr dealt first with the $5,000 reimbursement.

“Miss Horvath characterizes her claim as a ‘fee’ for the time she has spend [sic] ‘educating’ the strata council and strata manager, talking to other owners, researching, copying and printing,” Regehr said.

“I find that there is no legal basis for this claim. The strata council members who run the strata are unpaid volunteers,” Regehr said. “I find that it makes no sense that Miss Horvath would be paid to question the strata council members’ decisions, something no one asked her to do.”

From Horvath’s requests, Regehr found she wanted him to suspend or restrict the strata council’s decision-making authority.

“Miss Horvath does not say who should make decisions instead,” Regehr said.

The strata also asked for orders that Horvath “stop all inappropriate correspondence and harassment”, communicate respectfully, and that she follow the strata’s bylaws.

Regehr said that strata request was imprecise.

“I agree with the strata that her emails are frequently disrespectful even when they are about relatively mundane strata matters,” he said. “I also agree that, at times, the sheer volume of correspondence is unreasonable.”

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