Deck wars: Homeowner calls out strata for new patio that's 50% smaller

Mar 24 2023, 6:20 pm

A homeowner frustrated with their strata for replacing a deck with a much smaller version took their battle to court.

According to court documents from the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal, Kerri Stewart co-owns a strata lot, and the strata removed a rotting deck located by Stewart’s unit. They replaced half of the deck with a smaller patio made out of pavers and installed a raised garden where the other half of the deck used to be.

Stewart wants the deck restored to its original size, but the strata said they made the changes to help “accommodate a Sequoia tree’s root system.”

The tree cannot be removed, according to the City, and an arborist ruled out any rigid decking because “the raised area would require the installation of multiple footings that would shift as the tree roots grew.”

But, according to Stewart, replacing the deck with a small patio and garden constitutes a “significant change to common property,” and the strata did not vote to approve the change.

According to the Strata Property Act, strata cannot make a significant change to the use or appearance of common property unless the change is approved by a resolution passed by 75% of the owners or the change is immediately necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or damage.

And, according to the courts, there was “no suggestion that the removed deck needed to be immediately replaced to prevent loss or damage.”

And the changes have had a big impact on Stewart, who said that the new backyard area is unusable, having gone from “a useful patio to eat and gather on, to an area where dirt is tracked in and cannot be kept clean.” Also, the change depreciated the property value, negatively affecting its marketability.

Now, the strata has been ordered to hold a general meeting to approve the replacement patio setup. If the vote doesn’t pass by a 3/4 vote, the strata must replace it with “a comparable deck or patio of the same size and function as the original common property deck, at the strata’s expense.”

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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