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B.C. strata owner told to fix bathroom window she never got permission to install

The woman installed a larger bathroom window despite having her request to do so refused by her strata council.
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A B.C. strata owner must pay to return her enlarged bathroom window to its original size.

A Surrey woman who claimed her larger-sized bathroom window added value for other owners has had her appeal of the strata’s order to return it to the original size rejected before a B.C. tribunal.

Lindy Colman replaced several exterior windows and doors to her strata lot and replaced the bathroom window with a larger one, said B.C. Civil Resolution tribunal member Chad McCarthy in a March 9 decision.

She had requested approval in April 2022. But, when she did that, she had already ordered new windows.

However, the strata did not approve the bathroom window enlargement as required under the strata’s bylaws, which the strata says would be a significant change to common property.

“Despite the strata specifically rejecting window enlargements, she installed a bigger bathroom window anyway,” McCarthy said.

The strata requested Colman change the new window to its original size or face bylaw fines for an unapproved alteration.

Colman countered that the strata should have approved the bathroom window enlargement.

She requested orders for the strata to approve the bathroom window and to stop fining her.

She also requested an order for the strata to recognize that the renovation increased the value of all strata lot owners’ homes and may inspire others to do similar renovations. Additionally, she sought an order for the strata to acknowledge how many alternative window formats exist in the complex.

McCarthy said the strata repeatedly sent Colman infraction letters asking her to return the window to its original size or face fines.

“Contrary to Ms. Colman’s suggestion, I find the strata did not ask her to reinstall the original bathroom window, only to return the bathroom window to its original size,” McCarthy said.

He said Colman did not explain how her larger bathroom window increased the value of other homes. He said her expectation of enlargement approval on that basis wasn’t reasonable.

McCarthy noted strata corporations must balance the individual and collective rights of owners, and that aesthetic considerations are important. 

He ruled the strata did not unreasonably withhold approval of the window.

“I find Ms. Colman has not identified any persuasive reasons why maintaining her original bathroom window size was unfair to her,” he said.

“I also find it is not unfair for Ms. Colman to bear the cost of returning her bathroom window to its original size, given that she installed the enlarged window without first receiving the strata’s required approval.”

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