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Coquitlam condo owner upset about hot tub noise wins dispute over $200 fine

Coquitlam strata must reimburse the fine because property owner wasn't given written notice, in decision by B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.
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A noisy hot tub timer control sparked a strata dispute in Coquitlam.

Hot tubs are a luxurious amenity, but sometimes they can cause friction between condo owners.

At least that's the case in a dispute that was taken to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) for a decision.

The owner of a condo unit in a residential tower at 2995 Princess Cres. in Coquitlam took his concerns to the CRT after he was hit with a $200 fine for tampering with a hot tub control timer in his building.

According to the facts laid out in the case posted online, Allan Barnett removed the hot tub's timer control knob at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2021, because the hot tub's jet pumps were "extremely noisy."

He put the knob back on the next day at 10:30 a.m., wrote a sign asking residents not to use the hot tub timer and sent the strata a letter explaining what he had done.

However, his actions prevented other residents from activating the hot tub’s jet pumps, according to facts laid out in the case.

A month later, on Jan. 13, 2022, the strata sent Barnett a letter warning him that he would be fined $200 because he had allegedly violated strata bylaws that stop owners from "unreasonably" interfering with the rights of others.

Bylaws also restrict residents from putting up signs or altering common property, without prior approval.

Barnett was given a hearing, but the strata denied his request to reverse the fine.

Still, with push back from Barnett, the strata offered to reverse the fine, but by the time of the hearing, it had not done so.

In the end, it was a lack of due process that caused the CRT to order the strata to pay him back.

It turned out they hadn't given him official written notice of the bylaw fine, which is a requirement under the Strata Property Act.

"So, I find that the bylaw fine is not valid," stated Richard McAndrew in his written decision.

McAndrew wouldn't go as far as to address Barnett's claim that he was treated unfairly.

"For the above reasons, I find that the strata’s $200 bylaw fine imposed against Mr. Barnett must be reversed. In his submissions, Mr. Barnett also claims that the strata treated him significantly unfairly by imposing the bylaw fine. Based on my findings above, I find it unnecessary to consider this."

Because he won the case, the strata must also reimburse fees Barnett paid to the tribunal to deal with the case.

"I order that the strata immediately reverse the $200 bylaw fine imposed against Mr. Barnett, relating to the hot tub timer control knob," the decision states, adding that within 30 days of the Sept. 8 order, the strata must also pay Barnett $225 as reimbursement of CRT fees.