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Resolving strata disputes

Your strata neighbour plays music in the pool area, despite a no-music bylaw, and your unit looks out on the pool area. What should you do? When disputes arise between strata lot owners, there are several avenues available to bring about a resolution.

1. Informal discussions frequently lead to a resolution. A member of the strata council may agree to act as intermediary in the discussions.

2. If not, a formal hearing placed on the agenda of a strata council meeting could be the next step. Such a meeting must be requested in writing, and must be held within four weeks of the request. If a decision is reached by the council, a written decision must be provided to the owner who sought the hearing within one week of the meeting.

3. If still unsatisfied, a strata owner can call a special general meeting of the strata owners, although the support of other owners is necessary. A written request for such a meeting must be signed by at least 20% of owners. At such a meeting, after the issue is raised, the strata owners in attendance can vote to determine the outcome. As with a hearing at a strata council meeting, the special general meeting must take place within four weeks of the request for it.

4. If the matter is not urgent, rather than calling a special general meeting the issue could be added and addressed at the next annual general meeting. Here again 20% of the owners must sign a written demand supporting inclusion of the issue at the next meeting.

5. In still other situations, a dispute resolution committee could be formed, if both parties agree to use this approach. The standard form of strata bylaws provides for such a committee.

6. Another option is a formal arbitration process under the Strata Property Act. This process can be invoked by the strata corporation or by a strata owner.

7. Finally, formal court proceedings are available when necessary.

A lawyer familiar with strata corporations can assist in discussing the options and picking the ones most suited to the dispute and the parties involved.

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