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'Unrealistic': Strata expected B.C. woman pregnant with twins to sell condo

"I find that the strata effectively ignored Ms. Klingler's personal and medical situation."
Pregnant patient medical care
A B.C. strata expected a woman pregnant with twins to sell her condo rather than grant her hardship exemptions.

A Metro Vancouver strata council who expected a woman to sell her condo while she was expecting twins has been told its decision against granting a hardship application was unrealistic and misguided.

“(Rachel Klingler) was hospitalized and facing a medical situation that the strata should have known would monopolize her attention,” a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal ruling said.

“Her doctors had warned her to expect a difficult birth of high-needs twins, followed by a potentially lengthy stay in hospital for both her and her twins,” tribunal Eric Regehr said in his May 9 amended decision. “It is difficult to understand how the strata could have reasonably expected Ms. Klingler to navigate selling (her unit) at the same time. I find that the strata effectively ignored Ms. Klingler’s personal and medical situation.”

Klingler co-owned a strata unit that she rented out from May 15, 2021, to May 15, 2022, after the strata granted a one-year hardship exemption from the strata’s rental restriction bylaw.

The strata declined to grant a further hardship exemption after May 15, 2022, so the unit became vacant.

Klingler claimed the strata should have permitted her to keep renting it out. She asserted the rental restriction bylaw was unenforceable, the strata had approved her request to rent the unit when she first purchased it in 2015 and that the strata wrongfully denied her hardship application.

What she wanted from the tribunal was an order that the strata approve the rental or grant a hardship exemption for two years. She also sought $18,195 in lost rent, move-out fees, damages and legal fee reimbursement.

The strata denied Klingler’s claims, saying its rental restriction bylaw was enforceable. It said it correctly removed the unit from the rental list because it decided Klingler did not count as a “rental” because she lived there with a roommate. The strata said the decision to deny Klingler’s hardship application was justified based on the financial information she provided.

Regehr, however, found the strata did not fully assess Klingler’s financial situation, “but instead disqualified her based on perceived dishonesty or inaccuracy in her tax filings.”

“The strata’s obligation in a hardship application is to assess an owner’s circumstances, not to assess the accuracy of the owner’s tax filings,” Regehr said. “I find that the strata’s position about her tax returns was unreasonable.”

The strata also argued Klingler did not face financial hardship because she could have sold her unit at a considerable profit.

“The strata says that (the unit's) assessed value in 2023 is $685,200 and she paid only $320,000 in 2015.” Regehr said. “While assessed values do not necessarily accurately reflect market value, I accept that (the unit’s) value has likely increased substantially. Ms. Klingler does not deny this.”

That led to what Regehr called a key problem in how the strata handled Klingler’s pregnancy.

The strata says it considered whether “pregnancy alone” was enough for a hardship exemption.

“However, the strata essentially considered that Ms. Klingler’s medical and personal situation in March and April 2022 was irrelevant because she should have already sold (the unit) by then,” Regehr said.

He called that unrealistic.

Finally, the strata denied that it did anything to warrant aggravated or punitive damages.

Regehr disagreed and awarded her $2,500, part of a total award of $19,268 payable by the strata corporation.