Man with notoriously ramshackle Kelowna home loses challenge of ex-partner’s will

Click to play video: 'Kelowna homeowner heading to court to save house'
Kelowna homeowner heading to court to save house
WATCH: A Kelowna homeowner is taking the battle to save his problem house to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. – Sep 27, 2021

A Kelowna man who was thrust into the public eye after a protracted battle with city officials that wanted to see his dilapidated home knocked down, is back on the losing side of a legal entanglement.

Janusz Grelecki went to court recently to contest the will of his recently deceased former common-law partner, claiming ownership over the property she left to her children. The decision was posted online by the BC Supreme Court this week.

Justice Gary Weatherill wrote in his decision that Grelecki and the woman were in a relationship for about a decade, and he expected to be the recipient of her modest holdings, despite an acrimonious breakup a year preceding her death.

Click to play video: 'Janusz Grelecki on the possible demolition of his home'
Janusz Grelecki on the possible demolition of his home

Marta Miles, who died in January 2022, met Grelecki at a dance in Penticton around 2010 or 2011 and they began casually dating.

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The relationship became more serious in 2013 and the two started living together. At the time, Grelecki owned and resided in a home located at 424 Gibson Rd., Kelowna, and she owned a home in Kaledon, on Partington Road. The Gibson Road property is the one city officials in recent years have taken issue with for being rundown.

Before that, however, the couple went back and forth between the two homes and in 2013 Miles had a will drawn up leaving everything to Grelecki, not her sons.

“I declare that I have made no provision in this, my will, for my sons as they are both self-supporting adults and I have provided for each of them generously during my lifetime,” Miles wrote.

“Among the reasons I have not left anything to my children, include that I have been paying their bills for years and I sincerely believe they do not respect me. They are able to look after themselves.”

According to Weatherill, in 2016 Miles transferred the Partington Road home to include herself and Grelecki as joint tenants. The circumstances surrounding the transfer are unknown but it was priced at “one dollar and natural love and affection.”

Five years later, in November 2021, the relationship went sour, according to Weatherill’s decision. Grelecki had gone back to Kelowna and Miles had called her son to say that she’d been physically abused and Grelecki had threatened her life.

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“(Her son) immediately travelled to the Partington Road home from his home in Kelowna, calling the RCMP on the way,”  Weatherill wrote.

“When he arrived, an RCMP officer was already there with Miles, who had visible bruises and marks on her face.”

Grelecki was not present and Miles was taken to the hospital by her son. The discharge summary noted that she had facial contusions.

Her son then brought her back to his home and she told him she was done with Grelecki.

When Grelecki returned to the Partington Road home, he didn’t know where Miles was and started looking for her. He called the RCMP who said they’d meet him there. Upon their arrival, Grelecki was arrested and charged with assault.

“Grelecki vehemently denies assaulting or physically abusing the deceased,”  Weatherill wrote. “He maintains that she had been suffering from delusions for approximately six months prior to the separation and says that her allegations were a result of her delusional state.”

The charges were ultimately dropped.

Meanwhile, when her son went with the Miles to visit the doctor, go to the bank and to purchase clothes, they discovered that Grelecki had emptied their joint bank account.  Miles’s son then arranged for a new account for his mother.

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Miles told her son that she was concerned, Weatherill wrote. With the will as-is, Grelecki would get everything when she died and she didn’t want that. So her son brought her to a lawyer to discuss estate planning.

The conversation between the lawyer and Miles was private, and her testimony was factored into Weatherill’s decision.

Weatherill wrote that Miles told the lawyer she had been physically abused by Grelecki, and wanted financial autonomy. She also made it “unequivocally clear” that she wanted her estate to be divided between her two sons. She then moved into an apartment in Penticton, where she lived on her own until she died.

Miles had well-documented bouts of mental illness in 2012 and 2013, and Grelecki argued that was the cause of her change in tack, despite the fact she hadn’t had a noted incident since 2017.

“There is no evidence that persuades me that the deceased was experiencing mental health issues from November 2021 to the time of her death,” Weatherill wrote.

“Grelecki’s assertion is based on his self-serving observations of the deceased’s behavior in the six months prior to the separation and lacks the ring of truth.”

Weatherill described Grelecki’s application to bring the matter to a trial  “a fishing expedition and based mostly on self-serving allegations, inadmissible hearsay, and innuendo.”

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The judge found that Miles was of sound mind when she made her new will and knew what she wanted to be done with her estate. Her son was awarded court costs on top of having his mother’s wishes upheld.

As for Grelecki, in March, Kelowna’s Bylaw Services said he filed a complaint with the BC Ombudsperson in November and the City was still waiting to hear back from them. The house, therefore, is still standing.

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