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Burnaby condo owner loses strata battle over unopenable window

Cole Balachanoff said a floor plan shows a certain window in his Brentwood apartment should open, but it doesn't. He told the Civil Resolution Tribunal the strata should replace the window with an openable one or give him a $10K break on strata fees.

A Burnaby condo owner won't be getting a $10,000 break on his strata fees – or another window that opens unless he pays for it himself, thanks to a ruling by B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal this week.

Cole Balachanoff, who owns an apartment in the Oma tower at 2355 Madison Ave., appealed to the CRT about a window in his unit, according to a tribunal ruling Friday.

He said a floor plan shows it was originally intended by the developer to be operable and openable.

Balachanoff asked the tribunal for an order compelling the strata to reduce his strata fees by $10,000 or to alter the window so it opens.

The strata opposed the application, saying the window wasn't defective when it was installed in 2007 and is still in good condition.

And the floor plan itself said the building may not be exactly as shown on each floor, according to the strata.

The strata said Balachanoff was looking to upgrade the window at the strata's expense.

Balachanoff and the strata exchanged several emails from January 2022 to September 2023, when the strata was replacing Balachanoff's windows with new ones, according to the tribunal ruling.

In the emails, Balachanoff told the strata it appeared the builder or owner-developer had mistakenly installed a window that didn't open, unlike windows in a similar position on the floors below.

He asked the strata to replace the window with an operable one, but the strata declined, saying the price ($17,514) was too high.

They also denied liability because the window wasn't openable when he bought the condo.

Under its bylaws, the strata is responsible to repair and maintain windows in the building, according to the ruling, but tribunal member David Jiang concluded it had fulfilled its obligations in that respect.

Jiang said the strata wasn't bound by the developer's floor plan with the openable window.

"The owner-developer does not have authority to bind the strata in contracts to which the strata was not a party," he said. "Mr. Balachanoff's claim, if accepted, would essentially turn the strata into an insurer for the owner-developer's work, which is certainly not its role."

Jiang dismissed Balachanoff's claim and ordered him to pay the strata's tribunal fees.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor