Skip to content

Leaky fridge costs B.C. strata owner over $100K — before he even moved in

The fridge in James Shen's Vancouver apartment leaked, causing the strata to pay a $100,000 insurance deductible.
James Shen has been ordered to reimburse his strata corporation for an insurance deductible stemming from a leaky fridge.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered a Vancouver condo owner to pay his strata corporation $101,332 after finding he was responsible for a leaky fridge even though he had not yet moved in.

At issue was whether the fridge installed by the developer constituted part of the building and therefore the strata’s responsibility, or a movable item that becomes the responsibility of the owner.

The strata said Zhicheng Shen, also known as James Shen, must reimburse it $100,000 for an insurance deductible the strata paid under its insurance policy because the insurance claim was caused by water leaking from Shen’s refrigerator.

Shen, however, said he isn’t responsible for the deductible because the refrigerator was under warranty from the strata’s owner developer, and he had not yet moved in.

The West End strata was created in July 2020 and includes 118 strata lots located in a single 29-storey building, tribunal vice-chair J. Garth Cambrey said in his Sept. 23 decision.

Shen purchased the new unit from the owner developer in September 2020.

According to tribunal documents, it was undisputed that on April 3, 2021 the unit’s refrigerator leaked. Cambrey said that was confirmed by an email from the strata’s plumber, who went to the unit and found the freezer door had water dripping from the bottom seal.

“It took me a bit of work but I managed to get it open, it was definitely not installed properly. I found the freezer full of ice and water. Looks like the icemaker was making ice and it was melting then leaking out due to the improper seal,” the plumber said.

Water to the suite was shut off, as was the fridge.

“The leak caused significant water damage to other strata lots and the common property, so the strata’s insurance policy was triggered subject to a $100,000 deductible, which the strata paid,” the ruling said.

Cambrey found a bylaw that said fridges don't fall under strata responsibility.

“Based on these bylaws... I find the strata must insure the floor and wall coverings in (Shen’s unit) but not the refrigerator,” Cambrey said.

[email protected]