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B.C. strata loses dispute over portable hot tub on patio

Alejandro Jose Noriega put an inflatable spa on his balcony but the strata said it was a hot tub and began fining him.
A B.C. strata council lost a dispute over a portable hot tub on a homeowner's patio.

A B.C. man recently found himself in hot water with his strata council over an inflatable hot tub.

In November 2021, Alejandro Jose Noriega was informed by his home's strata manager that someone had complained he had installed a hot tub on his patio.

He was given 30 days to remove it or face a $200 fine, plus an additional $200 every week until it was gone.

That following January, he informed his strata council the inflatable hot tub was removed. However, the strata did not immediately cancel its fines against Noriega.

In the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), the strata argued that Noriega had made alterations to common property — where his patio was located — without permission. Among their arguments were concerns that Noriega may have disobeyed a municipal bylaw by not getting a permit and that he had not confirmed that the patio's stability or that his bathroom's plumbing system could accommodate the tub's draining. 

While the judge acknowledged these were valid concerns, they weren't supported by evidence.

Noriega, however, claimed the spa was patio furniture as it was readily movable. That same argument that has been successfully used in two recent, unrelated tribunals related to strata spats over hot tubs.

The judge sided with Noriega, cancelling $600 in strata fines and ordering $225 be paid by the strata for CRT fees. The judge stopped short of ordering the strata to permit Noriega to keep the hot tub on the patio, as it was determined to be patio furniture.