Builders Liens And The Strata Property Act

In a fairly recent decision of our Supreme Court in W Redevelopment Group Inc. v Allan Window Technologies Inc., the court has provided some guidance as to the interpretation of section 90 of the Strata Property Act.  Section 90 allows a builders lien that has been filed against a strata lot to be discharged upon the posting of security proportionate to the unit entitlement of that strata lot compared to the total unit entitlement of all strata lots in the particular strata plan.

The construction project involved was the development of the old Woodward’s department store in downtown Vancouver. W Redevelopment (“W”) was the head contractor.  A company known as Allan Window Technologies Inc. (“Allan”) was the subcontractor.  Allan was hired to supply and install windows and doors for the project.  After Allan was unpaid it filed a number of builders liens against the project, however it only filed liens against those strata lots still registered in the name of the owner-developer at the time of filing.  An issue arose as to the amount of security that had to be posted to remove those liens.  W, as well as the owner-developer argued that those liens should be discharged in accordance with section 90 upon payment of a reduced amount of security. The Court however rejected this argument. After considering the definitions of "owner" and "owner developer" in the Strata Property Act and also applying principles of statutory interpretation it concluded that the legislature intended to limit the application of section 90 to owners who purchased strata lots from the owner-developer.  It went on to state that section 90 was not available to the owner-developer. As a result, the owner-developer was required to pay into court the full amount of the lien in order to obtain a discharge against any particular strata lot.

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