Letter: Burnaby stratas have unfair advantage in flooding disputes

Editor:

Re: Burnaby strata takes condo owner to court over ‘alleged washing machine overflow,’ NOW news

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Please don't be fooled into thinking that owners often win such claims. Most often, the owner must pay the strata's insurance deductible and often these deductibles are massive, some as much as $250,000.

People are losing their homes. Most stratas present more and better evidence and have bylaws that are iron-clad, such that “negligence” is not something they have to prove. Instead, most stratas have bylaws that allow for owners, such as the one in this article, to be held accountable or “responsible” just because they own the unit.

The flooding from appliances and bathtubs and sinks in some buildings causes damage to many units on many floors, such as one downtown in which units on more than 20 floors were damaged and that meant a massive deductible had to be paid by the owner of the source suite.

So unfair. The real "negligence" is in the lack of building codes to require developers to properly waterproof floors in all wetrooms (kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms), to slope them very slightly and include a central drain such that any overflows or leaks will flow into the building's main drainage system. This is done in Australia, New Zealand and in most countries in the world. It costs the developers a little extra time and money during construction and so they don't want to do it.

A few sentences of change in the building code would prevent the extensive damages that are currently the norm, leaving people out of home often for as long as a year.

Moisture and overflow sensors installed at the time of construction would also go a long way, as would requiring developers to install only quality appliances with overflow protection. Instead, most often, the individual owner is billed for all.

So unfair. Photo of a central floor drain in a brand new Australian condo.. they are barely visible.

Requiring central floor drains would save approximately 4,000 to 5,000 insurance claims every two months, just in Metro Vancouver. Governments have known about this for a few decades at least.

Mariette West, Burnaby

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