It began as a simple argument over parking spaces, but now a B.C. judge is ordering a New Westminster couple to vacate their condo – with assistance from the RCMP if they refuse to let the sale go ahead.
Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer ordered the “very unusual penalty” against the owner of the condo for creating a legal mess that cost the strata complex thousands of dollars.
The conflict started almost a decade ago – in 2006 – when Huei-Chi Yang Bea and her husband refused to obey new parking bylaws that changed common parking into assigned stalls. Though they were fined for the infractions, Bea and her husband continued to ignore the bylaws.
In May 2008, after two years of fines, the dispute hit a boiling point, spilling over into the court system as the couple filed the first of a series of lawsuits and appeals that were dismissed, with costs awarded to the complex owners.
Costs awarded against Bea and her husband were $53,000 and went unpaid.
“This case is not normal,” wrote Grauer in his judgment posted online Tuesday, noting a person’s property rights aren’t usually considered as part of the penalty for contempt of court.
“I conclude that a forced sale is the only appropriate and meaningful sanction…”
The complex’s owners stated in an April court hearing that the Beas had cost them more than $173,000 in legal fees, disbursements and taxes, while the Beas represented themselves.
The strata argued that unless unusual steps were taken there would be “further litigation, appeals, applications, and expense, expense and more expense.”
“The owners cannot understand how it is that one recalcitrant couple can abuse the court system with such impunity, while the owners continue to bleed financially,” wrote Grauer in his judgement.
Grauer said the proceedings took up countless court hours, frustrating dozens of judges and severely testing the patience of registry staff – all while putting the owners to great expense.
“The time to end their abuse of the court’s process is now,” he wrote.
The couple have been ordered to vacate the condominium by June 15, allowing the strata to sell the unit and granting permission for RCMP to assist if the couple interferes.
Once the sale is complete, the couple will receive the net proceeds from the sale – after taking into consideration outstanding mortgage debt and other costs, judgements and charges against the property.
Featured Image: Underground Garage via Shutterstock