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Burnaby strata ordered to drop $22K in fines for room rental

Berge Hamian, who owns an apartment at Carrigan Court in the Lougheed area, took his strata to the Civil Resolution Tribunal over $22K in fines for renting out one of his rooms to a roommate.
The Carrigan Court strata has been ordered to rescind $22,000 in bylaw fines imposed on an owner who rented out one of his rooms.

A Burnaby apartment owner battling $22,000 in strata bylaw fines for renting out one of his rooms to a roommate has won a victory at the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Berge Hamian, who owns an apartment at the Carrigan Court strata in the Lougheed area, told the tribunal he rents one of his rooms to a roommate on a long-term basis, according to a CRT ruling Monday.

Hamian said his roommate rental complies with the strata's bylaws because Hamian lives in his unit and rents out the room for periods greater than three months, but his strata disagrees and has slapped him with ongoing bylaw fines totalling more than $22,000.

In duelling tribunal complaints, Hamian asked for orders compelling the strata to rescind all its fines and pay him $56,647.80 in compensation for the stress and anxiety the strata has created since October 2021.

Meanwhile, the strata argued Hamian doesn't live in the unit and the rental therefore violates the bylaws.

It asked for orders compelling Hamian to pay the fines, evict his roommate and stop the rentals.

Owner treated 'significantly unfairly'

The bylaws in place when the dispute began prohibited rentals of all or part of a strata lot except to family members and in cases of hardship as permitted in the Strata Property Act (SPA).

Based on a "plain reading" of the bylaws, tribunal vice chair Garth Cambrey said it was clear Hamian had contravened them.

But Cambrey said the evidence showed the strata didn't initially tell Hamian he was prohibited from renting out his room.

"Rather, the main focus of the strata's allegations and letters, and the reason it eventually fined Mr. Hamian in December 2021, was because he did not prove to the strata that he lived in (his unit)," states the ruling.

A strata council member had, in fact, told Hamian he could rent out his room as long as Hamian lived in the apartment, but Hamian had refused to provide proof he was there, saying it was a violation of privacy.

"I do not know how the strata came to interpret the bylaws to mean that Mr. Hamian could rent out (his unit) or a room in it, if he continued to reside in the strata lot, but that is clearly what happened," Cambrey says in his ruling.

Cambrey concluded the strata had treated Hamian "significantly unfairly."

"I find that the strata fined Mr. Hamian because he did not provide proof of residency, something the bylaws did not require," Cambrey said. "In doing so, I find the strata's conduct was harsh, wrongful, and unjust."

Rental restriction bylaws now obsolete

He ordered the strata to rescind all the fines is had imposed on Hamian and ordered it to pay his tribunal fees.

Cambrey also declined to order Hamian to kick out his roommate and stop renting out the room because a change to the Strata Property Act on Nov. 24, 2022 banned strata rental restrictions..

Cambrey stopped short of awarding Hamian the $56,647.80 in compensation, however.

He said Hamian hadn't provided sufficient supporting evidence to substantiate his claims of stress or financial damages.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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