Going to Court for Strata Disputes

Going to court to have a judge hear evidence and decide your case can be expensive. You may wish to consider resolving the dispute within the strata, using the Civil Resolution Tribunal, or getting legal advice before starting a court case.

Learn more on this page:
Parties Involved in a Law Suit
Limitation Period
Applying to the Supreme Court for an Order
Serving Notice
Owner Authorization
Costs of the Law Suit
Court Ruling Against the Strata Corporation
Limits on an Owner Involved in a Law Suit with the Strata Corporation
Provincial Court (Small Claims Court)

Parties  Involved in a Law Suit

The strata corporation or section may be sued by a strata lot owner. In addition the strata corporation or section may be sued as a representative of the owners with respect to matters relating to:

  • common property
  • common assets
  • bylaws or rules or
  • an act or omission of the strata corporation

The strata corporation or section may sue as a representative for strata lot owners, on behalf of one or more owners about matters affecting only their strata lots and an owner.

Limitation Period

On June 1, 2013 the basic limitation period under the BC Limitation Act changed to two years.

For strata corporations this means that debts---including outstanding fines, special levies and strata fees---that become due and owing on or after June 1, 2013 are generally not collectable after a two year period.  Prior to June 1, 2013 the previous limitation period of six years applies. For legal advice on this topic please consult with a lawyer. Additional background information for strata owners and council members is provided by: CCI Vancouver, Clark Wilson or Lesperance Mendes.

Applying to the  Supreme Court for an Order

An owner or tenant may apply to the Supreme Court for an order preventing or remedying a significantly unfair:

  • action or threatened action of the strata corporation or strata council
  • decision of the strata corporation or strata council
  • exercise of voting rights by a person who holds 50% or more of the votes, including proxies at a general meeting

An owner, tenant, mortgagee of a strata lot or interested party can apply to the Supreme Court for an order that the strata corporation:

  • perform its duty under the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules
  • stop contravening the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules

The strata corporation, on behalf of all owners except those being sued, may bring an action relating to the following matters:

  • the interpretation or application of the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules
  • the common property or common assets
  • the use or enjoyment of a strata lot
  • money owing, including fines

The strata corporation may apply to the Supreme Court for an order that an owner, tenant or other person:

  • perform a duty he or she is required to perform under the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules
  • stop contravening the Strata Property Act, regulations, bylaws or rules

Serving Notice 

Service on the strata corporation of any court proceeding may only occur by personally serving a strata council member or sending the notice by registered mail to the strata corporation at its most recent mailing address on file in the Land Title Office.

Owner Authorization 

Unless otherwise provided by the Strata Property Act, before a strata corporation can begin a lawsuit in the name of all of the strata lot owners (except the strata lot owner who is being sued), the suit must be authorized by a resolution approved by a 3/4 vote. For the purpose of this vote a person being sued is not an eligible voter.

A strata corporation is not required to obtain approval of the strata lot owners before proceeding in Small Claims Court if:

  • the proceeding is against an owner or other person to collect money owing to the strata corporation including fines
  • a bylaw has been passed that dispenses with the need for authorization, and the terms and conditions of the bylaw have been met

A strata corporation can begin a law suit on behalf of one or more owners about matters affecting only their strata lots if:

  • it obtains the written consent of those ownerst
  • the arbitration is authorized by a resolution passed by a 3/4 vote

Costs  of the Law Suit

If the law suit proceeded in the name of all strata lot owners:

  • all strata lot owners (except the strata lot owner who is being sued) must contribute to the expense of the law suit
  • the strata lot owners must contribute to the expense according to their unit entitlement unless another method of contributing to the common expenses has been unanimously agreed to

The strata lot owned by the strata lot owner who is a party to the law suit should not be used in the unit entitlement of calculation.

If the law suit proceeded in the name of only some of the strata lot owners:

  • only those strata lot owners on whose behalf the suit proceeds must contribute to the expense of the law suit
  • the owners should contribute to the expenses, based on their unit entitlement unless another method of contributing to the common expenses has been unanimously agreed to and using only the unit entitlement of the strata lots owned by the strata lot owners in whose name the law suit proceeded

Court Ruling  against the Strata Corporation

All strata lot owners are responsible for a judgment against the strata corporation and must pay the judgment according to their unit entitlement (unless another method of contributing to the common expenses has been unanimously agreed to).

Limits on a Strata Lot Owner involved in a Law Suit with the Strata Corporation

A strata lot owner who is sued by, is joined in a law suit or has sued the strata corporation:

  • is not liable to contribute to the legal costs that the strata corporation must pay
  • does not have a right to information or documents relating to the suit including legal opinions
  • does not have a right to attend those portions of any general or council meeting at which the suit is discussed
  • is not required to contribute to the funds paid to the strata lot owner by the strata corporation in settlement of the matter

Provincial Court (Small Claims Court)

Generally, court actions relating to the interpretation of the Strata Property Act and the duties and obligations of various parties in a strata development cannot be brought to Provincial Court. However, the strata corporation may sue an owner or tenant, and may file an arbitrator’s decision and order for costs in Provincial Court if the:

  • amount claimed or the value of the personal property or services is within the monetary jurisdiction of the court ($25,000)
  • action or decision is in respect of
    - debt or damages
    - recovery of personal property
    - specific performance of an agreement relating to personal property or services
    - relief from opposing claims to personal property 

References:
Strata Property Act: Sections 163-173.1

The information on this website about strata housing is provided for the user’s convenience as a basic starting point; it is not a substitute for getting legal advice. Learn more about the site’s purpose and limits. The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: July 15, 2016.