Strata-property law: 2016 in review
20 December 2016
By Kevin Zakreski
This past year has seen several milestones in strata-property law, both here in British Columbia and elsewhere. The year has featured important court and tribunal decisions, new legislation coming into force, and new law-reform initiatives.
Here are some of the significant developments in 2016, as noted in the BCLI blog.
- January: The BC Supreme Court issued a ruling in a smoking dispute. Second-hand smoke would end up playing a role in no fewer than six BC court and tribunal decisions this year. By October, the BC Human Rights Tribunal was offering its own advice for strata councils and strata-lot owners in dealing with the issue.
- February: The BC Supreme Court ordered a strata corporation to be wound up. In July, legislation lowering the voting threshold for voluntarily terminating a strata came into force. By December, there was a report of the first strata property initiating the new procedure by obtaining a resolution passed by an 80-percent vote.
- March: In Norenger Development (Canada) Inc v The Owners, Strata Plan NW 3271, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia overturned an earlier decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court, concluding that, despite an administrator’s “well-meant attempt to put an end to the perceived dysfunction of the Strata Corporation,” the “foundational democratic principles that pervade the Act cannot be sacrificed to expediency absent clear statutory direction.”
- April: The California Law Revision Commission launched its project to examine the intersection of builders-lien and strata-property law. Courts in British Columbia and Alberta also grappled with reconciling the demands of these two bodies of law.
- May: The Civil Resolution Tribunal kicked off a series of significant developments by announcing its plans for early intake of strata disputes. The year would also see the CRT’s solution explorer come online and the first tribunal decision in a strata dispute appear (PDF) (in another case involving second-hand smoke).
- June: One of a number of court decisions on the increasingly complex art of strata governance appeared, with a court in Alberta striking down a strata corporation’s “pointless” fines against an owner. Also of note: the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court considered the standards of honesty and good faith imposed on strata-council members.
- July: Disputes over parking lots led Ontario courts to make two decisions that had significant things to say about strata-corporation governance. In July, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice examined the origins of the oppression remedy in corporate and strata-property law. In August, the Court of Appeal for Ontario confirmed that the business-judgment rule applies to strata-council decisions.
- August: The BC Court of Appeal clarified the application of the Strata Property Act’s complex rental-restriction provisions.
- September: The BC Court of Appeal examined the Strata Property Act’s penalties for an owner-developer failing to hold a strata corporation’s first annual general meeting within the act’s time limits.
- October: The BC Supreme Court appointed an administrator and ordered a special levy for a “quintessential leaky condo.”
- November: New South Wales’s “new era for stratas” began on 30 November 2016, with the coming into force of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.
- December: The BC Supreme Court looked at a bylaw based on the rule in Clayton’s case, finding that a strata corporation was unable to rely on it to characterize a payment of strata fees as a payment made on account of a fine.