The curious case of a water leak in a condo shows the importance of complete proof


The British Columbia Civil Resolution Court (CRT) ordered a condominium corporation to immediately cancel a nearly $10,000 charge against a condo owner after finding that the unit owner was not not responsible for a water leak and the resulting expenses.

In Liang c. The owners, Strata Plan NW 1374CRT member Leah Volkers wrote that while she found lot owner Chuan Wei Liang responsible for the leak, available evidence does not show that the strata company spent $9,843.15 to fix it.

The leak was discovered on June 24, 2019 in Unit 116, a stratum two stories below Liang’s Unit, SL60. Strata sent a contractor, Latham’s, to investigate. The dispute revolved around where the leak originated and whether Liang was responsible for it and the resulting expenses. The decision underscores the importance of providing full evidence and not relying solely on repair receipts.

The condominium company relied on two invoices to show that Liang was responsible. The first was a $706.65 invoice from Latham’s which read in part: “I found a large puddle near the shower in [SL60]… No active plumbing leaks detected. On site, the entrepreneur also found a washing machine installed, “but connections not to be coded”.

The strata company alleged that Liang had connected a washing machine to the faucet supply lines under the bathroom sink, and this was the “main source of water leakage to lower floors”.

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Liang has not disputed that a washing machine was installed in his unit, but claims it did not cause the leak. He says he showed the machine to the Latham technician when they were investigating the source of the leak, and there was no mention of a problem at the time. He also stated that the cause was probably a clogged drain on the roof of the Strata building (which had previously leaked), but Volkers found that to be unproven.

The second invoice was from Platinum Pro-Claim totaling $2,901.59 for repairs to units 116, 216 and SL60. The invoice lists the cause of the loss as a “faucet supply line under the bathroom sink,” but does not identify the location of the bathroom sink, Volkers wrote in the published ruling. Thursday. In addition, the specific repairs performed by Platinum were not shown on the invoice presented in evidence.

“There is no other evidence, expert or otherwise, from Latham’s or Platinum that shows Mr. Liang caused the leak or is otherwise responsible for it,” Volkers wrote. “I find that Mr. Liang is not responsible for the leak. It follows that Mr. Liang is not responsible for the strata’s expenses resulting from the leak.

Volkers said that while she found Liang responsible, the evidence does not show that the strata company spent $9,843.15 to fix the leak. “The invoices in evidence do not reflect this amount,” she wrote. “The two bills only total $3,608.24. It is unclear what additional expenses were charged to Mr. Liang’s condo lot, or on what basis.

In its written submissions, the stratum also “inserted a typescript which it claims is a June 24, 2019 email from Latham’s. This email included an opinion that the leak was caused by an illegal installation of washing machine in SL60.”

But the email and its attachments were not submitted as documentary evidence. “There is no way for me to determine if the typed text contained in the strata’s written submissions is genuine email, or who sent it,” Volkers said. “I also find it would be procedurally unfair to consider this purported email when Strata neglected to tender it into evidence, and Mr. Liang says he specifically requested a copy that did not never been provided.

“Finally, even if the email itself had been presented as documentary evidence, I would not have accepted it as evidence of expert opinion on the cause of the leak. Indeed, the author of the e- mail and his qualifications to provide expert opinion are not identified, as required by CRT Rule 8.3 on expert evidence.

Featured image by iStock.com/Lina Moiseienko

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