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More Law Suits Over Condos

17 March 2013

Back in November we talked about how Trump Tower developers in Toronto were suing investors for backing out of the purchase of their condo units. But, a case in Vancouver involving former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, shows that lawsuits can go both ways. And sometimes, the purchasers of those condos can also sue.

That was the case this past January, when the Vancouver condo unit Campbell had purchased was finally completed. Unfortunately, she had purchased it in October 2007, at the height of the boom and when buyers and investors thought that they’d get a great return on their investment. She paid $1.8 million for the downtown unit, but it wasn’t completed until January 2013.

Now, Campbell has hired lawyer Bryan Baynham to represent her against Hotel Georgia Management Ltd., saying that she wants her $368,000 down payment for the unit back. The cooling housing market is in full gear, especially in Vancouver, and Campbell along with other purchasers in that complex want their money back, now that they won’t get their investment back.

“The perception of my clients, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, is that they can’t sell these units for what they purchased them for, and therefore they want their money back,” Baynham said in a statement.

Baynham did also point to the law, saying that if there were any changes that would affect the value of the property, the developer is required to notify the purchasers in writing of those changes.

But, the law team for the development firm is saying that all purchasers, Campbell included, knew about the terms as well as the risks associated with such a purchase before they entered into any agreement. Ken McEwan, one of those lawyers, says that there was no late completion date, and no failure of disclosure. He blames the incident on purchasers simply “overlooking” some of the terms in the contract.

“People are perfectly happy in 2007 to sign a contract in the belief that the market will keep going up and they will make money,” said McEwan in a statement. “And we say there was no failure of disclosure, and we are relying on the contract that everyone entered into back then, and allocated the risks.”

What do you think? Who is right in this case? Should purchasers accept any completion date, even if it’s more than five years after they’ve agreed to purchase the unit? Or are the developers the ones at fault for the delay, and so they should return the money?

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