Reasons for judgment were recently released for the first appeal of British Columbia’s newly created Civil Resolution Tribunal ("CRT").
The underlying dispute involved move-in/move-out fees that a strata corporation in Vancouver charged its occupants. A tenant living in the strata challenged the fees levied against his roommates on the basis that they were unreasonable in circumstances where no furniture was required to be moved, and that in any event, it was significantly unfair for the strata to wait two and a half years to levy the fees, and then cancel his roommate’s fob access without notice in order to obtain payment.
The tenant was successful at the CRT. The tribunal member found that the bylaw was unreasonable given that the actual expense to the strata from moves without furniture was closer to $25 but the strata charged a flat fee of $100. The tribunal member further found that the conduct of the strata was significantly unfair given that the strata induced the payment of the fees out of duress.
The strata appealed the CRT decision on three grounds. First, the strata argued that the CRT erred in law in failing to address the tenant’s standing. Second, the strata argued that the CRT erred in law in applying a subjective rather than objective test to determine the reasonableness of the bylaw. And third, the strata erred in law in applying a subjective rather than an objective test to determine whether the strata’s conduct was significantly unfair, and in any event, made an ultra vires order due to a drafting error in the legislation.
Mr. Justice Pearlman dismissed the CRT’s appeal on all three grounds, and exercised his discretion to remedy the drafting error in the legislation (which has, since the appeal hearing, been amended by statute). He also further discussed at length the standard of review to apply to CRT decisions, which will be of precedential value to future CRT appeals.
The reasons for judgment are available here.
David W. Wu acted for the successful tenant in defending the appeal. Arvay Finlay LLP has considerable experience litigating statutory appeals and judicial reviews from tribunal decisions.