A potentially precedent-setting case involving homeowners who never moved into the Langley condos they bought years ago was heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
The saga began in 2015. People started buying pre-sale condos in Murrayville House, a 92-unit building on 221A Street in Langley.
Problem is, the owners never moved into their units.
WATCH: Would-be Langley homeowners lose court fight
Instead, the project was plagued by lawsuits between developers and lenders. When the building went into receivership, it was revealed that some units had been sold two, three, even four times.
Fred West, one of the buyers, said he never thought his condo purchase would end up in a bitter court battle.
“The main concern here is absolutely no protection for the homebuyer, the consumer,” West said.
“It’s gonna really impact the industry if this doesn’t get settled properly.”
Earlier this year, a B.C. Supreme Court justice directed the receiver to re-market and sell 40 of the units—not at 2015 prices, but at 2018 market value.
Diego Solimano is one of the lawyers representing over 30 buyers who are appealing the Supreme Court decision from April. He said buyers feel they have little recourse.
“We have hundreds of people who were ready to move in who are now on the streets, on couches, living with neighbours who are now priced out of the market,” Solimano said.
He’s hopeful new evidence will convince the court to reconsider.
“The issue that is before the court is how much money was actually advanced, what of those amounts are secured, what of those amounts are unsecured,” Solimano said. “The decision that was made seemed to lump those amounts together”
“It’s a difficult situation,” Stephen Roxborough, another lawyer representing the buyers, said. “Somebody’s going to bear the burden. It’s just determining who is a very difficult situation to be in.”
They say depending on the outcome of the appeal, this case could also set a new precedent.
“All of the cases that I found… were cases in which the development hadn’t even broken ground or there was substantial amounts of construction yet to be done,” said lawyer Amelia Boultbee.
Solimano said this could be “the first time in Canada that a development that is ready for occupancy has been foreclosed on days before people were ready to move in.”
The hope is a decision on this appeal will come quickly—for West’s sake, and for so many others like him.