BC Civil Resolution Court Dismisses Okanagan Lake View Claims

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The British Columbia Civil Resolution Court has ruled against a couple seeking nearly $300,000 in compensation because their neighbors obstructed their view of Okanagan Lake.

In a decision rendered on December 22Tribunal member Chad McCarthy dismissed claims by Joel and Samantha Becker, which stemmed from their neighbors placing two objects on a balcony.

The couple alleged the items – which McCarthy refers to in his ruling as privacy screens – violated 10 different regulations implemented by the condo owners association, known in British Columbia as the Condominium Corporation. .

The claim sought an order requiring the condo corporation to remove the items and pay the couple $279,141.18.

McCarthy declined to issue such an order, addressing and dismissing each of the alleged violations of the settlement.

The court member ruled that the privacy screens did not meet the criteria for a nuisance, as they were not unsightly or inappropriate and did not interfere with the Beckers’ enjoyment of their property, except by partially blocking the couple’s view of the lake.

“Loss of a view – even a beautiful view – cannot be characterized as interference with the use of land which would be intolerable to an ordinary person, so as to create an actionable nuisance,” McCarthy wrote. , citing an earlier BC Supreme Court decision. on a similar problem.

McCarthy also dismissed the Beckers’ argument that the screens were “improvements” to their neighbors’ property that were made without Strata’s approval, since the screens are not fixed to the ground or attached to anything. that is.

Similarly, McCarthy concluded that screens are not fences and therefore not prohibited by strata regulations. They are also not vegetation, although they are covered with plastic sheeting, the tribunal member concluded, because the screens are not living plants.

“In summary, I find that the owners of Lot 12 have not violated any of the 10 regulations as alleged by the Beckers,” McCarthy wrote. “So I find there was no reason to impose fines for breaches of the rules, retroactively or otherwise, on Lot 12.”

The bulk of the compensation sought by the plaintiffs – some $180,000 – stemmed from the alleged loss of property value caused by the loss of lake view.

McCarthy denied that claim, saying he found no basis for an order that the strata were liable for an alleged write-down.

“Furthermore, although the Beckers strata lot is on sale, I find that there is not enough evidence to show that its value has diminished at all, let alone due to reduced eyesight. on the lake,” McCarthy wrote. “The Beckers submitted value calculations based on their lot of strata not having a lake view, which I find is not the case. I find these calculations to be speculative and based on faulty assumptions, and are therefore unreliable.

Other compensation requested by the Beckers included:

• $3,721.18 for the reimbursement of legal fees

• $2,920 for reimbursement of condominium fees for the “period of undue hardship”

• $12,500 for time spent by the Beckers on contentious issues

• $30,000 for unissued fines, calculated as $200 for each of 10 regulations allegedly broken each week for 15 weeks

• and $50,000 for “discrimination and alienation hardship”

McCarthy also denied each of those claims, noting that the couple had not named any specific strata council members or their neighbors as respondents in their claim.

The action was brought against the strata only, and in several cases there was no legal mechanism for the strata themselves – rather than the individual owners – to be held liable for compensating the Beckers, if their claims had been deemed legitimate, according to McCarthy.

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