Accessing Strata Documents

Shawn Smith
Strata Law

A strata corporation’s obligations with respect to the retention and production of documents are set out in sections 35 and 36 of the Strata Property Act (SPA). Section 35 contains a list of the various types of documents which must be kept by the strata corporation. In turn, Regulation 4.1 establishes the time periods for which those various documents must be kept. Section 36 allows owners and tenants to view and request copies of those documents enumerated in section 35. It also permits a former owner and former tenant to request documents during the period in which they were an owner or a tenant.  Those same provisions have been held to apply to sections within a strata corporation - Smiley v. The Residential Section of The Owners, Strata Plan VIS1921 2017 BCCRT 75.

Owners requesting documents will often make broad requests for numerous documents by category only. Such requests can be a significant burden on the strata corporation in terms of the time required to assemble them. Regulation 4.2 establishes the maximum fee which a strata corporation can charge someone requesting documents; $0.25 per page. There is no allowance for administrative time charged by a strata manager to gather the documents. That is a cost the strata corporation must bear. 

In Louie v The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2093 2017 BCCRT 72 the CRT held that it was acceptable for the strata corporation to request specifics of the correspondence requested (when it is unclear or overly broad) and for prepayment prior to the copies being made. A similar decision was reached in Mellor v. The Owners, Strata Plan KAS 463, 2018 BCCRT 1 where the CRT held that document requests must be reasonable. However, what is “reasonable” must be considered objectively, keeping in mind the right of an owner to access documents.

While it is acceptable to require an owner who wishes to view documents to do so during business hours (see Link et al v. The Owners, Strata Plan KAS 828, 2017 BCCRT 128), it is generally not permissible to limit the length of time they can spend viewing documents (see Wang v. The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2970, 2017 BCCRT 97). The strata corporation is obligated to make the necessary arrangements (within reason) to accommodate the request to review records. The costs of arranging to have the owner view records cannot be passed on to the owner. It is a cost the strata corporation must bear.

There is no limit to the number of times an owner may request to view documents, even if they are the same documents - Wang v. The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2970, 2017 BCCRT 97.

This article is intended for information purposes only and should not be taken as the provision of legal advice.