Woman who faced high-risk pregnancy owed over $19K by "stubborn" strata
A woman dealing with a high-risk pregnancy and attempting to rent out her condo unit to recoup financial losses took her strata to court and won big.
The issue made it to the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal and the tribunal member overseeing the case had some harsh words for how the strata treated the owner.
Rachel Klingler was the woman in the case, who claimed $2,495 per month in lost rent starting May 15, 2022, $200 for the move-out fee her tenants had to pay, $5,000 in aggravated damages, $5,000 in punitive damages and $5,500 in legal fees.
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The case revolves around a rental restriction bylaw that the BC government addressed late last year.
One of the main issues the tribunal sought to determine was whether the strata acted unreasonably in denying Klingler’s hardship exemption.
Klingler moved into the unit in 2015 and intended to find a paying roommate. Since then, the tribunal suggests she has received conflicting advice from managers.
On January 6, 2021, Klingler applied for a hardship exemption and gave the strata a breakdown of her business income. She had a 90% drop in income after March 2020.
Klingler worked as an in-home occupational therapist for children, significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her exemption request was approved on January 12, 2021.
She rented out her unit from May 15, 2021, to May 15, 2022, after the strata granted her a one-year hardship exemption from the strata’s rental restriction bylaw. The strata refused to give her a further exemption. However, legally, the strata could no longer enforce that bylaw as of the date that BC removed the restriction, November 24, 2022.
On March 11, 2022, Klingler asked for a two-year exemption. She cited the pandemic’s impact on her business and that she was expecting twins. She provided medical documentation which said that Klingler’s pregnancy was high risk and that she would likely give birth pre-term, meaning that her twins would need to spend time in neonatal intensive care. A doctor also said she needed to be “extra careful” to avoid COVID-19 and needed to stop working at 26 weeks of pregnancy.
On March 24, her hardship exemption was denied, with the strata asking Klingler for more evidence.
“The strata’s conduct was insensitive, stubborn, and high-handed. In short, I find the strata’s conduct justifies aggravated damages if Ms. Klingler has proven compensable intangible injuries,” the tribunal declared.
“In addition to this specific evidence, I find that it is self-evident that a person in Ms. Klinger’s circumstance would likely suffer intangible injuries because of the strata’s conduct.”
Klingler provided further documentation from a social worker who said that one of her “most significant stresses” resulted from the hardship exemption ending. The social worker added that the situation negatively impacted her health and well-being.
At one point, the strata even suggested Klingler sell the unit, of which the assessed value had increased significantly. However, the tribunal indicated that the assessed value does not reflect market value.
Ultimately, the tribunal ordered the strata to pay Klingler $19,269.31, which included $16,217.50 in lost rent, $2,500 in aggravated damages, $326.81 in prejudgement interest, and $225 in tribunal fees.