Condo owner liable for damage to elevator forced open to free trapped passengers

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      B.C. condo owner Yan Ming Liu believes his tenant did the right thing.

      Liu’s tenant had forced open the building’s elevator when two people were trapped in the lift.

      The elevator doors were damaged as a result of the forcible opening, and the strata corporation wants Liu to pay for the repair.

      Liu holds that his tenant just intended to help the elevator’s occupants, and so he should not pay.

      This dispute about unpaid elevator repairs reached a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal, which eventually ruled in favour of the strata.

      Tribunal member David Jiang wrote in his reasons for decision that the “evidence and submissions show that the tenant should have waited for help”.

      “The tenant knew an elevator technician was on the way,” according to Jiang. “When phoned, the elevator repair company did not advise anyone to act immediately.”

      Also, nothing indicated that the elevator occupants were in immediate danger.

      “There was nothing specific that caused him to act and I find he could have waited longer,” Jiang stated.

      As Jiang noted, the tenant did not follow the advice of the elevator repair company when he forced the doors open.

      The incident happened on September 22, 2018, when the elevator doors jammed with two occupants inside.

      “The doors were ajar, leaving only a foot of space,” Jiang recalled.

      One of the occupants in the elevator was related to Liu’s tenant.

      “The occupants told the tenant, presumably using a mobile phone, that they were trapped,” according to Jiang.

      The tenant informed the strata’s concierge, and the concierge called the elevator repair company.

      The elevator company said that it would send a technician.

      “After about 10 to 15 minutes the tenant decided to push open the elevator doors a few inches so that the elevator occupants could leave,” Jiang recalled.

      The elevator company provided two invoices.

      One invoice was $2,777.82 for labour, materials, and GST for repairs. According to Jiang, the condo owner should pay this amount.

      The second invoice was $652.19 for the service call of releasing trapped passengers. Jiang ruled that the strata should pay this service call fee “regardless of whether the tenant was negligent”.