Owner of illegal North Vancouver townhouse hostel ordered to pay back strata
A woman who ran an illegal hostel out of her Central Lonsdale townhouse has been ordered to pay the hefty legal bills her strata rang up trying to shut her down.
Emily Yu ended up being ordered by the B.C. Supreme Court to pay more than $52,000 to her strata after a years-long legal dispute and also multiple court appearances.
Yu advertised her three-bedroom townhouse located at 230 West 13th St. as the “Oasis Hostel” and various other names on short-term rental websites like Airbnb, Hostelworld.com and VRBO, and, according to court rulings, sometimes welcomed more than a dozen guests per night. Her strata took her to the Civil Resolution Tribunal in 2017, this ruled that Yu had broken her strata bylaw by prohibiting a very important rule of having rentals which are shorter then six months.
Yu appealed the CRT ruling in 2018, which a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed and ordered that each party pay their own legal costs.
However Yu did not stop renting her rooms out for short-term basis, and the strata ended up having to apply to have her tried in court. The courts agreed and Yu was found to be in civil contempt and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines to her strata, as well as “reasonable legal costs” her strata had paid.
The strata submitted all of their legal invoices and costs, which court documents show added up to $61,212.46.
However Yu was not pleased with this grand amount of money, so she decided to go through every line item in the invoices along with her lawyer looking for items that were not “reasonable and necessary” for the strata’s prosecution and asked the court to eliminate them from the assessment.
“Although represented by counsel at the time, Ms. Yu did not give evidence, but did provide an affidavit of largely irrelevant material and a plea for sympathy. Unfortunately for Ms. Yu, my task is to assess the reasonable amount of fees and disbursements charged by counsel to its client, the owners, Strata Plan VR 812 pursuant to court order. I do not have any discretion regarding her plea for sympathy,” B.C. Supreme Court Master Grant Taylor wrote in his decision on Aug. 16. “The principle, in its simplest form is that the owners are entitled to be reimbursed for their reasonable legal expenses incurred to bring recalcitrant owners in breach of the strata’s bylaws into compliance.”
Still, Taylor agreed items that were not relevant to the case, including bills submitted for “anticipated costs,” invoices from a separate law firm, and invoices for media interviews.
Yu has been given 60 days to pay her strata $52,100.
Previously, she was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines to her strata for violating their bylaws as well as a $5,000 fine for being found in contempt of court.
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