Strata cannot charge a homeowner for a gas leak investigation


The British Columbia Civil Resolution Court said a condominium cannot charge a landlord for an emergency investigation to find the source of a gas leak.

A Lower Mainland Strata tried to pin blame for a 2021 gas leak on a homeowner, but the BC Civil Resolution Court disagreed and told the Strata to vacate $9,231 in investigation costs and fines.

The situation began on July 16, 2021, when landlords, including plaintiff Bardia Tanavoli, reported the smell of gas in the building’s lobby and other areas.

FortisBC was called to investigate but was unable to locate the source.

There was no need to evacuate, tribunal member Micah Carmody said in a May 26 decision, as FortisBC confirmed the gas was not at threatening levels.

FortisBC recommended that Strata have their HVAC contractor locate the source.

Tower HVAC attended, but unable to identify a leak, shut down the main gas line for the evening.

Upon their return, tower personnel opened the gas line and discovered a small leak in a gas line in the parking lot near the mechanical room. It has been repaired.

Soon more leaks were reported, so the gas was shut off again and the search resumed.

On July 19, 2021, Tower traced the leak to the gas box on Tanavoli’s patio. He was not at home at the time.

The tower investigation revealed a gas smell “very present at the air intake to power the fan” and traced the duct to the outside of the building. They located the fresh air intake in a planter on the Tanavoli strata lot.

They found the patio’s dual-port barbecue box with both insulation knobs open, discharging gas into the planter right next to the air intake grills for the supply fans, Tower found.

Tanavoli said Tower’s photos show the gas outlets were in fact closed when Tower found them.

He added that FortisBC’s investigation is further evidence that his terrace was not the source of the gas leak, as FortisBC investigated his terrace using a gas detector and found no no gas leaks. He said a neighbor witnessed the inspection, as did two Strata employees.

Strata denied that FortisBC or any other Strata employees visited Mr. Tanavoli’s terrace on July 16.

Carmody found that Tanavoli had been negligent in having a hose connected to the gas outlet, not attached to a gas appliance, near the air intake and not clogged.

However, Carmody also discovered that Tower’s work was done as part of an emergency investigation to find the source of the leak, and not incidental to a repair process.

As such, Carmody, ruled that strata could not charge Tanavoli.

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