New BC Tribunal for Strata Property Disputes and Small Claims Matters

Under BC’s new Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, a new dispute resolution and adjudicative body, the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which has authority to hear some strata property disputes and, where the parties agree, small claims matters will begin operations in 2014, according to BC’s Ministry of Justice.

The new Civil Resolution Tribunal will provide an alternative to the traditional dispute resolution services of the B.C. Provincial Court’s small claims division. The tribunal will be structured to encourage people to use a broad range of non-litigation based dispute resolution tools to resolve their disputes as early as possible, while still preserving adjudication as a valued last resort. It is intended to encourage a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, rather than the traditional adversarial litigation model.
The act provides the Civil Resolution Tribunal authority to handle:

Strata disputes between owners of strata properties and strata corporations for a wide variety of matters such as:

  • non-payment of monthly strata fees or fines;
  • unfair actions by the strata corporation or by people owning more than half of the strata lots in a complex;
  • uneven, arbitrary or non-enforcement of strata bylaws (such as noise, pets, parking, rentals);
  • issues of financial responsibility for repairs and the choice of bids for services;
  • irregularities in the conduct of meetings, voting, minutes or other matters;
  • interpretation of the legislation, regulations or bylaws; and
  • issues regarding the common property.

Small claims disputes where the parties decide to take the matter to the tribunal instead of the court, up to a maximum value of $25,000 for:

  • debt or damages;
  • recovery of personal property;
  • specific performance of an agreement relating to personal property or services; or relief from opposing claims to personal property.

The tribunal will not decide tribunal matters that affect land, such as:
• ordering the sale of a strata lot;
• court orders respecting rebuilding damaged real property;
• dealing with developers and phased strata plans;
• determining each owner’s per cent share in the strata complex (the “Schedule of Unit Entitlement”).

Such matters will continue to be heard in the Supreme Court, as will the following matters relating to significant matters in a strata complex:
• appointment of an administrator to run the strata corporation;
• orders vesting authority in a liquidator;
• applications to wind up a strata corporation;
• allegations of conflicts of interest by council members; or
• appointment of voters when there is no person to vote in respect of a strata lot.