Strata takes Burnaby condo owner to court over ‘alleged washing machine overflow’

A Burnaby condo owner has successfully fended off a $15,000 bill from his strata for damage caused by an alleged washing-machine overflow nearly three years ago.

According to a Civil Resolution Tribunal ruling Wednesday, Wei Liu owns a condo at Sandlewood, a 200-unit condo complex comprised of three low-rise buildings on Government Street.

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The strata alleged that on Aug. 21, 2017, while Liu’s condo was being rented out, the washing machine in the unit overflowed, causing water damage to at least three units below.

Three months later, the strata requested Liu reimburse it for the $15,000 insurance deductible it paid for repairs.

“The strata says the owner is responsible to pay the insurance deductible because his malfunctioning washing machine used by his tenant led to extensive damage to common property,” states the tribunal ruling.

But Liu argued that, according to the strata’s bylaws, he wasn’t responsible to pay damages unless they were caused by negligence on his part.

“The owner submits, as his insurer stated, that he was not negligent about his washing machine leak as there was no indication that his washing machine was going to fail,” states the ruling. “According to the owner’s insurer, the owner’s tenant was not aware of any issues with the washing machine and had not experienced any such issues.” 

Referencing strata legislation, case law, the strata’s bylaw and the evidence presented by the parties, tribunal vice chair J. Garth Cambrey agreed with Liu.

He said, in order for him to rule in favour of the strata, the strata would have to have proven Liu had been negligent in causing the damage.

“To prove negligence, the strata must show that the owner owed it a duty of care, the owner breached the standard of care, the strata sustained damage, and the damage was caused by the owner’s breach,” Cambrey wrote. “It has not done so.”

The vice chair dismissed the strata’s claim and ordered it to pay Liu $100 in tribunal fees.

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