27 December 2021 – 06:30
A Vernon couple who claimed their lakefront condo depreciated by $180,000 because their neighbor’s “privacy screens” blocked their view of the lake have lost a lawsuit against Strata.
According to a Dec. 22 civil resolution court ruling, Joel and Samantha Becker argued that their neighbor’s ‘privacy screens’ blocked their ‘entire’ view of Okanagan Lake and pointed to 10 separate regulations indicating why strata should compel their neighbors to remove the screens. .
The Beckers filed several complaints with the Strata Council asking it to force their neighbors to remove the screens, but the Strata refused, so the couple then took it to civil resolution court with the goal that the court would order the strata to apply its statutes. and ask neighbors to remove screens.
In addition to the removal of the screens, the couple also sought $279,000 in the litigation, to cover $180,000 they had lost in the value of their property, as well as $50,000 for “hardship due to discrimination and alienation” plus attorneys’ fees, and $12,500 to cover 10 days of work they had put into the issue.
However, in the unusually long decision, Tribunal member Chad McCarthy separated the regulations and found that the privacy screens did not violate any of the regulations or strata restrictions put in place when the condos were built about five years ago. earlier.
And the Tribunal couldn’t even determine what the privacy screens were made of.
The Beckers said the screens were made from pallet wood and chicken wire and decorated with plastic flowers.
But the court concluded that “although the plastic sheets were not to the Beckers’ liking”, it did not violate any rules.
The Tribunal also found that the Beckers’ claim that the screens blocked their view of the lake “entirely” was not “completely” accurate.
The Tribunal found that although the screen blocked the view from certain parts of the Beckers condo on the second floor, the lake could be seen from other areas of their condo.
The Beckers argued the screens were a ‘nuisance’, but the Court ruled that the loss of a view – ‘even a good view’ was not a ‘nuisance’ under BC law .
The Beckers then argued that the privacy screens were a structure and therefore prohibited without strata approval and violated regulations put in place by the developer who built the condos known as the Statutory Building Regime.
The couple backed up their claim with a letter from the administrators of the Statutory Building Scheme stating that the screens were not permitted under its statutes.
However, the Tribunal ruled that it was not bound by the Statutory Building Scheme regulations and it did not classify the screens as structures under the Strata regulations.
READ MORE: Poorly drafted settlement sees Kelowna condo owners lose condo dispute
The Beckers then argued that privacy screens are a type of fencing or guardrail, which is prohibited by strata regulations.
But again, the Tribunal disagreed.
“I find that screens are not fences themselves, as they do not physically separate neighboring strata lots, define the edges of balconies or patios, or prevent or discourage access to a area,” the decision reads. “The screens are mobile and are about a meter wide.”
The Beckers then point to “views and vegetation” regulations that prohibit trees and shrubs from blocking views.
However, since the screen contained only plastic flowers, these regulations were not suitable either.
“I also conclude that (the) by-law is concerned with the preservation of views unreasonably obstructed by trees, shrubs and other living vegetation, but it does not suggest that views of strata lots be protected for any other reason or in any other way,” the ruling reads. .
READ MORE: BC man fined $15,000 by strata council over noise complaints wins trial
After reviewing 10 possible violations of the rules, the Tribunal ruled that no rules were broken.
The Court then dismissed the couple’s claim that their condo had been written down by $180,000.
“The Beckers do not adequately explain how it is possible for (neighbours) to instantly change the value of (the Becker condo) by $180,000 simply by repositioning the moveable privacy screens about a meter wide behind the existing wall, fence and glass privacy panels,” the Court ruled. “The Beckers submitted value calculations based on their non-lake view strata lot, which I find is not the case.”
Ultimately, the Court denied all of the Beckers’ claims.
The ruling says the condo was for sale and does not appear on any current real estate listings, suggesting it has likely been sold. It was listed at $1,009,500.
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