Q: Can my strata corporation prevent me from voting at a general meeting because of a debt?
A: As a strata lot owner, voting at general meetings is a fundamental and protected right. Section 53 of the Strata Property Act, SBC 1998, c.43 provides every strata lot with the right to vote, subject to one general exception. A strata corporation may pass a bylaw that restricts a strata lot’s vote if the strata corporation is entitled to register a lien against the property.
In Azura Management (Kelowna) Corp. vs. Owners of the Strata Plan KAS2428, 2009 BCSC 506, the British Columbia Supreme Court held that being in arrears was not enough to prevent an owner from voting under such a bylaw.
Since a strata corporation must provide notice demanding payment and indicating that a lien may be registered two weeks before filing a lien, a strata corporation must provide such a notice to an owner before it can restrict that owner’s right to vote.
In addition to the delivery of a notice indicating that a lien may be registered, a strata corporation can only restrict voting for certain kinds of debts. Section 116 of the Strata Property Act only permits a strata corporation to file a lien for unpaid strata fees, special levies, remedial repairs ordered by public bodies and payment of a strata lot’s share of a judgment against the strata corporation.
A strata corporation cannot file a lien or restrict an owner’s right to vote for unpaid fines, penalties, administrative charges, general repairs or payment of strata corporation insurance deductibles.
For additional information on this and other strata property topics, visit my free online strata law guide at www.stratalaw.ca. Finally, always remember that this article provides general reference information, not legal advice. If you need assistance with a legal issue, speak with a strata lawyer.