Condo Smarts: keep an eye on water-soaked flower pots on balconies and terraces

The added weight can cause stress, resulting in leaks into the living spaces below.

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Dear Tony:

Can a homeowner be liable for damage to the membrane and structure of a balcony if they have overloaded the space?


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Our stratum is a four story low rise building on False Creek with large outdoor balconies and terraces. Some are suspended from the building and others are rooftop areas above living spaces.

With significant snowfall preceded by rain and frost, leaks have appeared in two separate units as a result of saturated and overloaded pots. The weight has stressed the seams of the decks and the resulting tears have caused leaks into the living spaces below.

Our strata council has never issued any notice, but we have a statute that owners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of terraces and balconies.

—Nick W.

Dear Nick,

Overloading and stressing roof decks and balconies is a chronic problem throughout the province.


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Liability is often confused based on the designation of the property. Some are common property, some are limited common property, and some are part of a strata lot.

In your situation, the decks and balconies are common property. A strata corporation is not permitted to hold an owner responsible for the maintenance and repair of common property.

If it were limited common property, its statute may apply to designated areas; however, the nature of the type of limited common property liability should be clearly identified to ensure that the duties of the owners and the strata corporation are clear.

Where does this go wrong? The owners assume the board and the corporation is liable, and the board assumes the owners are liable. Ultimately, nothing is done for inspections or maintenance until a failure occurs.


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Most of us tend not to relate the consequences of weight loads and materials to activities and weather conditions.

A strata corporation may do whatever is reasonable to remedy the violation of its statutes and rules, including working on the property and requiring the owner of the strata lot to pay reasonable costs.

The complication your strata corporation will face is whether you have surveyed the areas routinely, were aware of existing planters at the time, notified owners of any of the risks, and whether there were any conditions within the statutes or Council advisory notices on the need to remediate potential hazards.

Repairs are essential first, then consult with an attorney to determine if your statutes apply and if your strata corporation can recover the costs.

CHOA has completed a new weight bearing bulletin in partnership with BC Housing to illustrate the limitations and effects of weight bearing on wood frame structures. You can download it, under “what’s happening this week”.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association. Send an email to [email protected].



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