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Burnaby strata ordered to pay owner nearly $29K after kitchen sink backup

The Civil Resolution Tribunal rules the strata at a Brentwood condo tower was 'negligent' because it didn't clean its drain pipes on 'a reasonable basis.'
The owner of a condo at the Mosaic at Renaissance Towers in Burnaby's Brentwood neighbourhood won her case at the Civil Resolution Tribunal recently.

The strata at a Burnaby apartment highrise has been ordered to pay $28,259.42 for damages from a backed-up kitchen sink.

On Nov. 25, 2021, residents of an apartment at the Mosaic at Renaissance Towers at 2138 Madison Ave. noticed water dripping from their ceiling, according to a recent ruling by the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.  

The water was coming from the apartment above, owned by Charlene Lal.

By the time she came home later that evening, water from an overflowing kitchen sink was running all over the floor and into two other apartments.

In her case before the Civil Resolution Tribunal, Lal argued the strata was responsible for the damage because the backup had been caused by a blocked vertical drain pipe inside the wall between her unit and another apartment.

“She says the strata is responsible to repair and maintain the drainpipe because it is common property,” states the ruling.

The strata, however, suggested the blockage might have happened where Lal’s kitchen drain line connected with the vertical pipe, making it her responsibility.

But Civil Resolution Tribunal vice chair Garth Cambrey was not convinced.

Cambrey noted the strata’s own plumber had said on an invoice that they had successfully broken up the blockage by snaking the main drainpipe from the unit above Lal’s.

Once they did that, the kitchen sink in Lal’s unit stopped flooding, according to the ruling.

“Which I find confirms it was not (Lal’s) drainpipe that was blocked,” Cambrey said.

Cambrey went on to find the strata had been negligent because it did not have a scheduled maintenance program in place for cleaning the drain pipes and had failed to prove the cleaning had been completed every two years.

Cambrey also noted the strata’s caretaker had said in a written statement that kitchen sinks had backed up in the building before, although not to the same extent as Lal’s.

“On this evidence, I find on a balance of probabilities, the strata did not clean the vertical drainpipes in the building where (Lal’s unit) is located on a reasonable basis,” Cambrey said. “Rather, I find the strata acted unreasonably in attending to the repair and maintenance of the drainpipes and breached its standard of care. Therefore, I find the strata was negligent.”

Cambrey ordered the strata to pay $28,259.42 in damages, as well as $225 in tribunal fees and $194.42 for pre-judgment interest.

The CRT is an online, quasi-judicial tribunal that hears strata property disputes and small claims cases.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor


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