B.C. strata wanted $100,524 for water damage, gets $10,000

B.C. strata wanted 0,524 for water damage, gets ,000

Posting owner memos to a strata internet portal not acceptable notification under Strata Property Act, B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal rules.

A Surrey, B.C., strata that wanted $100,524 for water damage after a bathroom sprinkler went off will only get $10,000 because it failed to inform the owner of an insurance deductible increase.

Kit Ching Kwong owns a unit on the 26th floor of the 38-storey building, B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member Kate Campbell said in her Aug. 31 decision

The strata said that on April 15, 2020, an occupant in the unit broke a sprinkler in the bathroom, causing water damage to common property and adjacent strata lots. The strata said an occupant broke the glass bulb in the sprinkler head, causing it to activate and flood the building.

Kwong, however, said the sprinkler was defective, and spontaneously malfunctioned.

The strata said Kwong was liable for the repair costs, and claimed $100,524 in damages. 

Kwong denied that an occupant broke a sprinkler, and said even if they did, she was not liable for the claimed damage.

Instead of filing an insurance claim, though, the strata paid for the restoration and repair costs directly, with costs totalling more than $200,000. It claimed the $100,000 as that’s what the deductible would have been had it made the claim.

Campbell said based on evidence, she found an occupant had activated the sprinkler.

One resident told the building manager he had broken the sprinkler head. The manager located the broken sprinkler head.

And, another occupant said his buddy had broken the head.

“I note that the signed part of each statement appears to have been drafted by the strata’s lawyer, since they both contain identical wording in the last paragraph,” Campbell said. “Both claim to have removed the sprinkler head and given it to the concierge, which cannot be true.”

Campbell said evidence showed the strata’s insurance deductible increased effective March 27, 2020, only a few weeks before the April 15, 2020 sprinkler incident.

“Ms. Kwong says she does not recall receiving any notification of the deductible increase, and says the strata failed to notify her,” Campbell said.

The tribunal noted the strata did not produce evidence it had provided that information to Kwong.

Further, she said posting a memorandum to the strata internet portal is not an acceptable way of owner notification under the Strata Property Act.

“I find the strata failed to notify Ms. Kwong of the deductible increase,” Campbell said.

“Since I have found the strata did not inform Ms. Kwong of the deductible increase as soon as feasible, it is significantly unfair to charge her for damages above $10,000.”