Am I responsible for the cost of repairing a hole my strata cut in my wall?
My strata hired plumbers to fix a leaky pipe located behind the wall of my unit. They cut a huge hole in my wall, and now they’re telling me to deal with my insurer for the cost of repairing the hole.
Under the law in BC, in strata properties, the strata corporation is responsible for maintaining and repairing common property. Common property is defined in the law, and it includes pipes that are in the walls, ceilings and floors between two strata lots, or between a strata lot and other common property. It sounds like the leaky pipe behind your wall is common property, in which case your strata had a legal obligation to repair it.
But what about the hole in your wall? Generally, the law says that strata owners are responsible for the cost of repairs to their own units. If, for example, the leaky pipe caused the damage to your wall, it’s likely you’d be on the hook for the cost of the repair (unless the strata was negligent). But it seems unfair to make you pay for the repair, as the strata’s plumber intentionally caused the damage.
The first place to look for an answer is your strata’s bylaws. Check for bylaws dealing with repairs. Well-drafted bylaws should cover the strata’s responsibility for damage to units caused by necessary repairs to common property. You have the right to request or inspect a copy of your strata’s bylaws. The strata must comply with your request within one week.
If your strata’s bylaws are silent on the issue, there are other avenues to consider. For example, you can present your concerns to the strata council in writing.
If you aren’t able to resolve the dispute within the strata, you may consider using the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is an online tribunal that hears disputes on strata matters.
Check out our guidance on dealing with your strata for more on your options.