Small claims and strata disputes are set to move from the courts to an online tribunal, although the system won’t be up and running for more than a year.
The civil resolution tribunal is part of a larger overhaul of the B.C. justice system that aims to help free up the courts for more complex cases. The province announced mediator Cheryl Vickers as chair of the the tribunal last week.
“Having a tribunal system that functions, and ensures people get timely decisions that are fair, will make strata living easier,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association of B.C.
The average strata dispute takes 12 to 18 months to make its way through small claims court, while the tribunal is expected to issue decisions within 60 days.
The most common complaints arise when strata corporations refuse to provide financial documents to owners or spend reserve funds without consent, Gioventu said.
“These are all tedious complaints that have been extremely costly to get court action on,” he said. “The registrar will also have the ability to deny people who are chronic complainers from using the system. It deals with issues in a fair way that ensures it won’t cost anybody a fortune.”
There are about one million strata property owners and residents in the province, with about 29,000 strata corporations subject to provincial law.