A Burnaby strata that tried to charge an owner $14,000 in move-in fees and fines for using her UniverCity townhouse as an Airbnb has lost a case in front of the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.
When the strata at The Hub – a townhouse complex at 9009 Cornerstone Mews on Burnaby Mountain – found out Jeannie Frost was using her unit as a short-term rental, it slapped her strata account with 56 $200 move-in fees and 56 $50 bylaw contravention fines for a total of $14,000, according to a tribunal ruling last week.
The strata claimed Frost was responsible for a move-in fee for each of the 56 “tenancies” it had identified between 2016 and 2020 based on Airbnb reviews, as well as possible $50 fines for not filling out the proper paperwork each time.
Frost, who has owned her townhouse since 2009 and rented it out to long-term and short-term tenants, didn’t deny she rented the place out to at least 56 short-term occupants between 2016 and 2020, but she argued she hadn’t violated the bylaws and shouldn’t be required to pay the move-in fees.
She took the strata to the tribunal, asking for an order for the fees and fines to be cancelled.
Under rules in place between September 2015 to April 2021, a move-in at The Hub was defined as “the initial movement of a new occupant’s household goods and personal effects into the building and subsequent removal of same.”
Tribunal member Micah Carmody found there was no evidence Frost’s short-term occupants brought anything with them other than their hand-carried luggage.
“That is, the occupants did not bring any household goods, which I find means furniture, small appliances, cookware, bedding and the like,” Carmody said in his Dec. 9 ruling.
On that basis, he ordered the strata to cancel any move-in fees imposed for rentals up to April 2021.
Under the new rules, Carmody found the short-term renters did technically “move in” but ruled the $200 fine was not reasonable.
He ruled the strata hadn’t provided sufficient proof for its various arguments for the fines: that moving luggage results in wear and tear on common property, allowing strangers into the building unsupervised could result in common property damage and imposing fees creates accountability.
“Overall, I find there is almost no evidence that the strata’s $200 fee is reasonable,” Carmody said.
Because Frost’s short-term rental involved licensing agreements and didn’t create tenancies, Carmody also found Frost wasn’t required to fill out the paperwork the strata had fined her for.
In the end, Carmody ordered the strata to cancel all move-in fees and bylaw fines from Frost’s account and to reimburse her tribunal fees.