B.C. CONDO OWNER FINED $17,000 WINS CASE AGAINST STRATA OVER AIRBNB
A B.C. condo owner has won a legal challenge against her strata after it fined her more than $17,000 for renting her suite on Airbnb.
According to a Dec. 9 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Burnaby condo owner Jeannie Frost received dozens of $200 fines for repeatedly renting her condo on the short-term vacation rental site.
Each time Frost rented the unit Strata BCS 3463 issued a move-in fine of $200 plus a $50 fine for not filling in the paperwork for a new tenant.
The Strata used reviews on Airbnb’s website to count the bookings and issue the fines.
The decision said between 2016 and 2020, Frost had at least 56 short-term occupants rent her condo unit.
Frost didn’t dispute renting her condo on Airbnb but argued as the occupants don’t actually move into the apartment the fees weren’t valid.
The condo owner also argued that as the Airbnb guests aren’t tenants, paperwork needed when new renters move in also isn’t needed, and therefore the $50 fines shouldn’t have been issued.
The Strata disputed this and pointed to its bylaw regarding the definition of “move-in.”
However, the Tribunal ruled that the bylaw rules defined a “move” to require the occupant to move “household goods and personal effects” into the building.
“This suggests moves of some degree of permanence… the occupants did not bring any household goods, which I find means furniture, small appliances, cookware, bedding and the like,” the Tribunal ruled.
The Tribunal found that as the Airbnb guests didn’t bring such items so the Strata couldn’t charge the $200 move-in fee.
The Strata then argued the move-in bylaw and definition had since been updated to include short-term vacation guests.
However, Frost argued a $200 move-in charge for a vacation guest was unreasonable and that the strata regulations required user fees to be reasonable.
The Tribunal agreed and found the Strata had failed to prove the fees were reasonable.
“The strata says moving personal effects, including luggage, results in wear and tear on common property,” the Tribunal ruled. “However, the strata provided no objective evidence of this, such as photos of damage, or invoices showing it has incurred maintenance costs related to moves. The strata also provided no evidence of administrative costs incurred.”
The Tribunal also found that Frost did not need to fill in new tenant paperwork for vacation rentals as an Airbnb booking was a licence agreement and not a tenancy.
It’s unclear why the strata didn’t fine Frost under a separate bylaw prohibiting short-term rentals and while the strata said such rentals aren’t allowed under another bylaw, it provided no evidence of that bylaw to the Tribunal.
Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled the Strata did not have the authority to issue all the fines and ordered it to reverse the $17,400 of fines levied against Frost.
Story by: Infotel