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Luxury B.C. building strata right in unplugging EV charger, tribunal rules

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal says a strata acted "reasonably" in turning off the power to a man's EV charger.
electricvehiclecharger
The strata at the centre of the dispute is at the Shangri-La, at 1111 Alberni St. in Vancouver.

A luxury Vancouver building’s strata council was correct in turning off a Vancouver man’s electric vehicle (EV) charger until he paid his bills, B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal ruled May 3.

Milad Rostamkhani said the strata, the Shangri-La at 1111 Alberni St., has improperly charged him $1,911 for his EV charging station. He said he has paid the money, claims he was overcharged for the station’s initial installation and that the power was shut off.

Rostamkhani asked the tribunal that the debt on his account be cleared, that each owner be paid back $368.69 for alleged overpayments and for his charging station to be turned back on.

The strata, however, said Rostamkhani owes the $1,911 and it turned off the power to his charging station as he is in default.

The strata began the EV charging station installation project in the strata’s parkade in 2017 as requested by several owners.

After an investigation of electrical capacity, the strata determined 50 charging stations could be installed at participating owners’ expense.

In May 2017, the strata announced the project, saying any owner who opted in would be responsible for their proportionate portion of the core infrastructure installation costs — plus $3,500 to $5,500 for the cost of connecting the owner’s specific parking stall charger to the infrastructure.

An agreement for project participation said the strata would coordinate charger installation, invoice the owners according to the number of project participants, and provide a credit to owners based on the total number of participants once maximum capacity was reached.

The agreement stated the owner would pay their proportionate share of costs related to the installation and keep the charger and all electrical connections in good repair.

Rostamkhani signed the agreement on Aug. 30, 2017.

On June 5, 2018, the strata advised participators that the final initial installation price would be $3,822, based on the number of participants at that time.

It further advised it would proceed with a second-round installation program the following year and any additional participants joining would eventually result in a reimbursement to all participants.

The strata required a 50% deposit payable by June 18, 2018.

It was undisputed that Rostamkhani paid $1,911 to the strata in June 2018, tribunal vice-chair Andrea Ritchie said.

At issue in the dispute was whether Rostamkhani ever paid the remaining 50% balance, and whether he is entitled to any reimbursement due to further participants joining the project.

The strata said, unbeknownst to it, Rostamkhani’s car charger was activated despite him not having paid the 50% outstanding balance for the charger’s installation.

The strata said it wasn’t aware of the issue until January 2021, when it audited its financials and discovered 17 owners had failed to pay the balance of the installation costs.

As a result, on Jan. 31, 2021, the outstanding balance was added to Rostamkhani’s account and on Feb. 24, 2021 the strata emailed, advising him of the $1,911 outstanding balance.

The strata continued to ask Rostamkhani for payment until July 7, 2021, when it ultimately turned off the power to his charger.

Rostamkhani said he paid the $1,911 in April 2019 and provided a carbon copy cheque that he said he wrote. Ritchie said a carbon is not proof of payment, only that a cheque was written.

Rostamkhani also wanted $200 per month compensation for having to purchase fuel because he could not use his charger.

“I find the strata acted reasonably in turning off the power to Mr. Rostamkhani’s charger until payment is received or proven,” Ritchie said. “I decline to order the strata to restore power, and I dismiss Mr. Rostamkhani’s claim for compensation noting that he did not provide any receipts or invoices in support of his compensation claim in any event.”

The strata also says the charging station project is not complete until all 50 units have been installed, so any potential refund is not calculable until that time.

As far as payback for other owners goes, Ritchie does not have the standing to make that claim for others.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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