Homeowner allowed to keep patio hot tub despite strata's complaints

Nov 15 2022, 8:05 pm

A Maple Ridge, BC, man will be allowed to keep an inflatable hot tub on his house’s patio despite protests from his strata council.

The BC Civil Resolution Tribunal ruled this week that Alejandro Jose Noriega didn’t break strata bylaws and cancelled all fines related to the inflatable spa.

Noriega lives in Trails Edge, a collection of 104 wood-frame homes in Maple Ridge’s Albion neighbourhood.

The dispute started when Noriega placed the hot tub on his patio in October 2021. The next month, the strata manager wrote to Noriega saying the council had received a complaint about the hot tub and said it violated strata bylaws.

In December, the strata council decided the spa was not a permitted patio item and began fining Noriega $200 for every week the spa was still on his patio. Noriega removed the hot tub in January.

But tribunal member Megan Stewart, who presided over the case, found Noriega’s spa didn’t actually violate the strata bylaws as the manager claimed.

The manager suggested the spa violated two bylaws — one relating to altering common property in the building, and the other referring to permitted patio furniture.

While a traditional hot tub would alter the balcony — requiring drainage, a new electrical outlet, and a gas line — the portable spa was free-standing and drained via a hose and pump through Noriega’s downstairs bathroom. The strata did not provide evidence the spa required electrical or structural alterations to common property.

In addition, the strata’s bylaws didn’t specifically prohibit inflatable hot tubs. The bylaw only said items kept on porches were limited to patio-style furniture, barbecues, and non-permanent natural gas fire pits and patio heaters.

The tribunal accepted Noriega’s argument that the portable spa was an item of patio furniture.

“I am more persuaded by the evidence that the spa is free-standing, takes a relatively short time to drain, deflate and pack away, and appears able to be carried by one or two people,” Stewart wrote. “I also find the spa is something Mr. Noriega can sit in to use and enjoy the patio. So, I find it is reasonably moveable and properly considered patio furniture under bylaw.”

In addition to cancelling the $600 in fines levied against Noriega, the tribunal ordered the strata to reimburse Noriega for $225 in legal costs.

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