Introduced to you last issue, Canada’s first online tribunal, BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), was created to increase access to justice for British Columbians by helping you resolve strata property and small claims disputes fairly, quickly and affordably from your home computer or mobile phone.
Now just passed in May is BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act
, which carries a number of significant changes directly affecting strata corporations.
The most important is that strata corporations will eventually be obliged to participate in strata matters under the jurisdiction of the CRT – putting them in the same position as owners, tenants and occupants.
The Tribunal is being implemented in stages to allow the public to transition into the use of the online services for dispute resolution. The four stages of the Tribunal process will include: The Solution Explorer, Party to Party Negotiations, Case Management, and Adjudicated Outcomes.
A significant step in the implementation of the tribunal is the appointment of 18 tribunal members. Another, when it becomes active In the fall of 2015, is the online Solution Explorer, which will permit access to strata information allowing the public to explore their specific types of problems and available solutions, and to enable parties to negotiate directly to resolve their issues.
The Tribunal will be eager to receive input from the public on the format of the Solution Explorer and ease of access.
In 2016, case management and adjudication services will be launched, enabling strata owners, tenants and occupants to commence Tribunal actions against the strata corporation. As mentioned, the strata corporation must participate. But the strata corporation commencement of an action against owners, tenants, or occupants (under the CRT) will not become mandatory until the regulations bringing the Amendment Act
come into effect – likely within a year of the adjudication process beginning.
We at the CRT are all eagerly awaiting its full implementation – to address a significant backlog of strata disputes and to provide strata corporations and owners with quick, economical access to day-to-day dispute resolution mechanisms.
The changes in the limitations periods – which essentially reduced the collection time of fees, fines, penalties, insurance deductibles, damages and costs to a two year period – have placed a much higher burden on strata corporations to actively collect money owing to them. A $200 fine sitting on an owner’s account is much more complicated to collect if the owner is not selling or remortgaging, and many strata corporations have discovered it is cheaper to write the amounts off than to proceed with collections. The CRT, once fully enacted, will permit strata corporations, specifically at the decision of the strata council, to commence an action to collect debts before they expire under the limitation period, without requiring a three quarters vote of the owners at a general meeting, or a bylaw permitting small claims actions. Traditional collections such as strata fees and special levies that require order for sale proceedings will remain as applications to the Supreme Court of BC. Of course, this also means owners, tenants and occupants will have a level playing field to challenge the decisions and bylaws of the strata, and to seek decisions ordering the strata corporation to comply with the Strata Property Act
, regulations and bylaws of the strata.
We can anticipate a much higher level of scrutiny of strata corporation business in the years to come. We are fortunate to have the leadership of Shannon Salter, Chair of the CRT, and the thousands of hours contributed by volunteers within the industry in the past three years to the development of the CRT. To follow the progress on the CRT go to: www.civilresolutionbc.ca
Contact us today to learn more about how FirstService Residential can make a difference in your strata community.