A B.C. condo owner will be allowed to keep his "inflatable spa" — or hot tub — on his patio despite the objections of his strata council, a civil tribunal has ruled.
Alejandro Jose Noriega took his case to the Civil Resolution Tribunal after his strata council fined him hundreds of dollars and ordered the removal of the hot tub.
In its decision, the tribunal ruled that the strata did not have the authority to remove Noriega's hot tub or fine him.
Noriega first installed the inflatable hot tub on his patio in October 2021. According to the tribunal ruling, the strata council contacted Noriega on Nov. 19, 2021, to inform him that it had received a complaint about the hot tub and gave him 30 days to remove it, or he would be fined $200 every week that it remained.
The strata council claimed the hot tub violated two of its bylaws that prevent alterations to common areas and that limit the items that can be kept on patios.
In her decision, tribunal member Megan Stewart found that Noriega did not alter the common property patio outside his condo by installing a free-standing hot tub.
Stewart also found no bylaws prohibited the use of hot tubs on patios. Her decision rested on the interpretation of "patio-style furniture," which is permitted on patios.
Stewart relied on the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary definition of furniture, which she said "includes equipment that is necessary, useful, or desirable, such as movable articles used in readying an area, such as a room or patio, for occupancy or use."
"I am more persuaded by the evidence that the spa is free-standing, takes a relatively short time to drain, deflate and pack away, and appears able to be carried by 1 or 2 people," Stewart ruled.
"I also find the spa is something Mr. Noriega can sit in to use and enjoy the patio. So, I find it is reasonably moveable and properly considered patio furniture."
The strata council has been ordered to cancel $600 in outstanding fines against Noriega and to reimburse him $225 in tribunal fees.
However, Stewart noted that nothing in the decision would prevent the strata from changing its bylaw to specifically prohibit inflatable or permanent spas.