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Owner not entitled to refund for not getting service she wanted from Burnaby strata: tribunal

A local townhouse owner said she didn't get the service she paid for from her Metrotown strata, so she asked the B.C. Civil Rights Tribunal to order the strata to refund her fees.
The owner of a townhouse at a Dow Avenue strata has appealed to the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal for an order to refund two years of strata fees.

A Burnaby townhouse owner who argued she should get a refund on two years’ worth of strata fees because the strata didn’t deliver the service she paid for has won a partial victory at the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Xiao Rui Hua owns a unit in a 40-year-old, 18-lot strata on the corner of Imperial Street and Dow Avenue.

She applied to the CRT for an order forcing the strata to refund two years of strata fees totalling $4,173.12. She also said the strata should follow the Strata Property Act and stop bullying, according to a ruling last week.

Hua made numerous allegations against the strata council, including that the strata failed to hold an annual general meeting for nearly two years, paid the president a salary for working as a strata manager, prevented Hua and another owner from voting at meetings, failed to provide services, and overpaid an owner who worked as a landscaper or groundskeeper.

Hua also claimed some strata council members are not fluent in English, and no interpreter was present at the 2019 AGM.

Hua and her husband moved out of their unit in 2019 and now rent it out, according to the ruling.

“Ms. Hua says she and her husband moved out because of a physical attack from a council member, but she does not provide details,” the ruling states.

The strata denied the claims and launched a counterclaim, alleging Hua owed the strata $3,323.35 for “embezzlement,” according to the ruling.

It alleged Hua and her husband had engaged in fraudulent transactions between 2012 and 2014 when they “controlled strata council,” according to the ruling.

In all, the strata claimed a total of $15,363.38 in expenses, including the $3,323.33 for the alleged embezzlement.

The strata’s claim was dismissed, however, because the CRT determined it was outside of its jurisdiction.

In the end, Tribunal member Micah Carmody ruled Hua wasn’t entitled to a refund.

Even if she had proven all her allegations against the strata, Carmody said there was no provision in the Strata Property Act or the strata’s bylaws that allows an owner to withhold strata fees for any reason – or entitles them to a refund.

But Carmody also ruled the strata had overstepped its power in two ways: first, by not allowing Hua to vote at general meetings because of an alleged debt and, second, by refusing to provide Hua’s real estate agent with a Form B information certificate needed to sell the townhouse.

Carmody ruled the alleged debt was not lienable and the strata’s enforcement actions contravened the SPA.

She dismissed Hua’s claim for the $4,173.12 refund and the strata’s claim for $15,363.38 in expenses, and ordered the strata to stop preventing Hua from voting at meetings and stop refusing to provide Hua or her agents with information certificates.

Carmody also ordered the strata to pay half Hua's tribunal fees.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor