When Breaches of the Strata Property Act Result in a Forced Sale
We’ve all had them at some point: those neighbour you can’t seem to get along with. You’ve tried speaking with them reasonably and they ignore you or things escalate. You try taking formal steps and they ignore you or things escalate.
In the case of The Owners, Strata Plan NW 1245 v Linden, 2017 BCSC 852 (CanLII), for years, the respondents’ conduct had been the source of excessive noise and abusive conduct complaints to the Strata. The Strata attempted to rectify the behaviour with the recourse available to it without success and they resulted in the Strata turning to the Court for assistance.
The Strata sought and was granted orders aimed at curbing the respondents’ conduct including enjoining the respondents from: communicating with members of the Strata or persons complaining about the conduct; uttering abusive, obscene or threatening comments to Strata members; vandalizing common property; slamming or pounding doors; allowing their dog to bark excessively; yelling or screaming; or disturbing others during certain hours. Judgment was also ordered for some $3,400 in fees levied by the Strata to that point.
Notwithstanding, the evidence before the Court was that the respondents continued to bully and harass others, made derogatory and vulgar remarks about others, continually disturbed others; hurled sexual comments at others and assaulted some other residents.
S. 173 of the Strata Property Act empowers the Court with the specific authority to order a strata property owner or tenant to comply with the Act, strata bylaws or strata rules, to order an owner or tenant to stop contravening the Act, bylaws or rules and to make any further orders it considers necessary to give effect to these other orders.
Further to s. 173 and the powers inherent to the Court, the Court found that the respondents were in contempt of the previous order of the Court and that no measure remained other than eviction that would suffice to protect the interest of the other residents. The Court ordered that within 7 days, the respondents had to list their property for sale and, within 30 days, they had to vacate the property. The orders were backed by the Court ordering the respondents to be arrested if they further breached any orders of the Court.
Presently, it appears that the respondents did not appeal the order of the Court, but have disputed attempts to have special costs ordered by the Court assessed.
While an extreme and rare outcome, The Owners, Strata Plan NW 1245 v Linden demonstrates that the Court is willing to grant severe orders against strata owners/tenants who deliberately contravene strata bylaws and unreasonably disturb their neighbours’ rights to quiet enjoyment. The case also highlights how strong documentary evidence of disturbing conduct and establishing a history of having issued warnings and fees in respect of such conduct may ground requests for injunctive relief from the Court.