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Suing a Strata Council

In the case of Wong v. AA Property Management Ltd., 2013 BCSC 1551, the Court considered the limits to which an individual owner can sue a Strata Council and Property Manager.

The Plaintiff, Mr. Wong, was a self-represented litigant who commenced an action against the Strata Council members, the Strata Corporation and Property Management. He alleged that all defendants acted improperly in the management of the strata’s affairs.

Mr. Wong’s Notice of Civil Claim was quite long and made various allegations with respect to defamation, parking rules, access to strata offices and records and a variety of other claims.

The Defendants brought an application to strike out many of the claims made by Mr. Wong on the basis that the allegations and claims made were unreasonable, unnecessary and failed to disclose a reasonable claim.

The Court considered the power of an individual owner to sue the Strata Corporation under the Strata Property Act (the “Act”). From the Court’s review, it concluded that the ability of an individual owner to sue the Strata Corporation he/she belongs to is limited by the Strata Property Act to the following scenarios:

  1. the owner may sue under Section 164 of the Act where the actions of the Strata Corporation have been “significant unfair” to the Plaintiff, as opposed to other owners;
  2. to sue a third party only its proportionate share of common property where a third party causes injury to that property;
  3. to direct a strata corporation to comply with its duties; and
  4. to set aside or order compensation where a council member has failed to disclose a “conflict of interest” in breach of section 32 of the Act.

With those limitations in mind, the Court struck most of the Plaintiff’s claims with a few exceptions as many of his claims involved contracts , duties and injury that were not related to the Plaintiff or his strata lot.

Take Away

This is an important case in that defines the ability of an individual owner to sue Strata Corporation/Strata Management.

An Owner who may have an issue with a Strata Council, cannot “throw the book” at the Strata Council by bringing claims that do not affect the individual owner. As always, we advise that both Strata Councils and Strata Management ensure that all decisions they make and actions they take comply with Act and the Strata’s By-Laws.

Similarly, the ability of an individual owner to sue is limited to those powers listed in the Act and outlined in this case. Accordingly, any owner who intends on commencing an action against a Strata Corporation is advised to review the Act or seek legal advice to ensure that they are maintaining an action for which they have standing pursuant to the Act. Doing so may help avoid the cost consequences of appearing in court with an action that is bound to fail.