The British Columbia Civil Resolution Court ruled against a couple who sought nearly $ 300,000 in compensation because their neighbors obstructed their view of Okanagan Lake.
In a decision rendered on December 22, Tribunal Member Chad McCarthy dismissed Joel and Samantha Becker’s complaints, which arose out of their neighbors placing two objects on a balcony.
The couple alleged that the objects – which McCarthy refers to in his decision as privacy screens – violated 10 different regulations implemented by the condo owners association, known in British Columbia as the strata corporation.
The claim sought an order requiring the strata corporation to remove the items and pay the couple $ 279,141.18.
McCarthy declined to make such an order, addressing and dismissing each of the alleged rule violations.
The tribunal member ruled that the privacy screens did not meet the criteria for nuisance because they were not unsightly or inappropriate and did not result in the Beckers’ enjoyment of their property, except by partially blocking the couple’s view of Lake.
“Loss of sight – even a beautiful sight – cannot be characterized as interference with land use that would be intolerable to an ordinary person, so as to create a prosecutable nuisance,” McCarthy wrote, citing a previous decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. on a similar question.
McCarthy also rejected Beckers ‘argument that the screens were “improvements” to their neighbors’ property that were made without the approval of the strata, since the screens were not fixed to the ground or attached to anything. that is.
Likewise, McCarthy concluded that the screens are not fences and therefore are not prohibited by stratum 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 Strata Lot 12 did not violate any of the 10 regulations as alleged by the Beckers,” McCarthy wrote. “So I found that there was no reason to impose fines for violation of regulations, retroactively or otherwise, on lot 12 of the stratum. “
Most of the compensation sought by the plaintiffs – some $ 180,000 – came from the allegedly lost value of the property caused by the loss of views of the lake.
McCarthy rejected that request, saying he had found no basis for an order that the Strata was responsible for an alleged write-down.
“Also, although the Beckers Strata Lot is going on sale, I find there is not enough evidence to show that its value has declined at all, let alone due to reduced views of the lake. “McCarthy wrote. “The Beckers submitted value calculations based on their batch of strata that did not have a view of the lake, which in my opinion is not. I find these calculations to be speculative and based on incorrect assumptions, and therefore unreliable. “
Other compensations requested by the Beckers included:
• $ 3,721.18 for reimbursement of legal fees
• $ 2,920 for the reimbursement of stratum fees for “the period of undue hardship”
• $ 12,500 for the time the Beckers spent on the issues in dispute
• $ 30,000 for unissued regulatory fines, calculated at $ 200 for each of the 10 regulations allegedly violated each week for 15 weeks
• and $ 50,000 for “difficulties due to discrimination and alienation”
McCarthy also dismissed each of those claims, noting that the couple had not named any specific member of the Strata Council or their neighbors as respondents in their claim.
The action was initiated 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 responsible for compensating the Beckers, if their claims had been deemed legitimate, according to McCarthy.