Victoria condo owners face lawsuit after allegedly lying to buy below market units


The Vivid at the Yates is a gleaming condo tower in downtown Victoria.

Built with an interest-free $53-million loan from the provincial government, Vivid was supposed to be a condo project that made a difference.

Only eligible buyers with a household income below $150,000 could purchase the units priced eight per cent below market value.

But court documents allege that as many as a dozen of those condos were sold to people who already owned property, and, in some cases, multiple homes worth millions.

One couple, for instance, owns two Victoria condominiums and their company also owns or operates nine other properties in the Saanich area.

The documents also detail the lucrative commission one real estate agent earned, profiting tens of thousands of dollars off a sale.

B.C. Housing has sued eight people, accusing them all of lying to obtain below-market-price condos in Victoria.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said it’s outrageous investors have taken advantage of housing that was built for people struggling to get into the market.

“In this case, these are private investors who, quite frankly, are abusing the system. And so we have accountable measures we’ve put in,” said Kahlon.

“We have an auditing process that we put in. And that is what caught these five individuals.”

The opposition BC United housing critic, Peter Milobar, said the program is a mess.

“How many families of those…units should have gone to people that actually should have qualified for them properly?” said Milobar.

“In the meantime, we have a building where units are now for sale, as of today, for $615,000.”

But the housing minister maintains that it’s just down to a few homeowners.

“The case is going forward. There are five homeowners we have not been able to resolve issues with. It’s a shame,” said Kahlon.

The CEO of Pacifica Housing, Carolina Ibarra, said there are lessons to be learned in order to move forward on the housing crisis.

“As disappointing as it is that someone might try to take advantage, the important thing is if that happened, that it’s addressed,” added Ibarra.

“There’s a likelihood that someone is going to try to take advantage of just about any program.”

Chard Developments, the developer of the building that received the $53-million loan from the province, is not commenting on the matter, as the issue is currently before the courts.

As for the condo owners, at least one of them claims they did nothing wrong.

The lawsuits seek to have the units’ titles transferred back to B.C. Housing, giving the buyers back what they paid “minus fees and disbursements.”

The outcome could set a precedent for how affordable housing programs are managed and protected from abuse in the future.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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