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Tribunal rules condo owner will have to pay over $3,000 for balcony modification: 'No reasonable explanation'

It would have provided cooling for the apartment, saving money and energy.

It would have provided cooling for the apartment, saving money and energy.

Photo Credit: iStock

A condo owner in British Columbia, Canada, has been hit with a huge fine for an unauthorized property modification. 

The strata — the organization of owners that governs the entire property block and deals with communal areas, common expenses, and property rules — disputed a shade screen that was installed on the balcony of Edward Tai's property, saying it was an alteration to the property that was not approved in the council's by-laws.

Tai argued that the shade screen was installed on the property before he moved in and in a tribunal called for the $3,200 fine he was issued to be reversed and to be reimbursed for the cost of removing it at the strata's request.

Despite having time-stamped pictures taken one-and-a-half hours after moving into the property showing the screen was already in place, no other condos in the block had a similar installation. The ruling said there was "simply no evidence" the property developer would have installed the screen, and Tai's fine was upheld.

"No other balconies in the strata have such a shade screen," a statement following the ruling read, as CTV News reported. "I find there is no reasonable explanation for the developer to have installed a screen only for (one unit) with no record of it doing so and no record of Mr. Tai requesting it." 

Stratas, like HOAs, have a reputation for ruling against modifications to properties despite the benefits they could bring to both residents and the environment. There are multiple stories of HOAs ruling against things like solar panel installation or planting native flowers in a yard. 

The shade screen, in this instance, would have provided cooling for the apartment, meaning there would be less of a need to run an air conditioning unit when temperatures were high. 

The savings on power required to run this appliance would have saved Tai money on energy bills, while the reduced reliance on electricity from the grid would have prevented planet-warming gases from being produced because of energy demand. 

Despite these benefits, the strata ruled against Tai, meaning he was forced to pay the fine and prevented from reinstalling the screen.

It's a shame that there are so many hoops to jump through when changes like this seem to be common sense. Although stratas and HOAs might be difficult to deal with, positive changes are possible with patience and preparation. 

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