A Maple Ridge man can keep an inflatable spa on his townhouse patio, despite objections by his strata council, B.C.’s Civic Resolution Tribunal has ruled.
The dispute between owner and strata was settled by the tribunal in a ruling on Nov. 10, which favoured Alejandro Jose Noriega, who lives in the Trail’s Edge townhouse development on 106B Avenue.
He was released from paying $600 in fines levied by the strata, and the strata were ordered to pay $225 of his fees for the CRT.
Noriega, the owner, put an inflatable spa on the limited common property patio outside his unit in October 2021, but was told the strata’s bylaws do not permit inflatable spas on patios.
The strata manager wrote to him on Nov. 19 about a “hot tub” on his patio, and cited violations of two bylaws. The strata manager gave him 30 days to remove the spa, warning he could be fined if he did not comply.
The tribunal ruling noted that under the Strata Property Act, before imposing a fine for a bylaw breach, a strata corporation must receive a complaint about the breach. It must also give the owner written particulars of the complaint, and an opportunity to respond, including a hearing if requested. If a strata corporation decides to impose a fine, it must give the owner notice of the decision.
Noriega responded on Nov. 22, arguing that the spa was patio furniture, and did not require alterations to the limited common property.
A week later, on Nov. 29, the strata manager reminded Noriega of his right to request a hearing, repeated the strata’s position the spa was not allowed, and warned of possible fines if it was not removed by Dec. 17.
Then on Dec. 22, the strata manager wrote to Noriega to say the strata council had agreed the spa was not a permitted patio item at its Dec. 7, 2021 meeting. The council had agreed to impose a $200 fine, and reserved the right to fine Mr. Noriega $200 every week until the spa was removed.
Noriega wrote to the strata on Jan. 4, 2022, saying he had removed the spa, but took the matter to the tribunal.
Noriega told the tribunal the spa was portable and required no electrical, plumbing, or structural alterations, and that he drained it using a hose and pump via his downstairs bathroom. It is free-standing, and can be deflated and packed away in 30 minutes.
The tribunal ruling by Megan Stewart noted the strata bylaws say the only items that can be kept on patios are patio-style furniture, barbecues, gas fire pits, and gas patio heaters.
She found the spa qualified as patio furniture, because it is “reasonably movable.”
“I also find the spa something Mr. Noriega can sit in to use and enjoy the patio,” wrote Stewart.
Stewart noted nothing in her rulings prevents the strata from amending its bylaws to prohibit inflatable or permanent spas.
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