Would-be condo buyers lose appeal

Condo buyers won’t be able to buy their units at the original prices.

The would-be buyers of a troubled Langley condo project have had what is likely their last appeal rejected by B.C. judges on Tuesday.

“Our case has lost,” said Nolan Killeen, a spokesperson for the group of about 40 people. “This was the final nail in the coffin.”

The group all put down deposits on condos in Murrayville House, a 92-unit, four-storey project near Langley Memorial Hospital.

The project’s construction was repeatedly delayed, with some buyers who signed contracts as early as 2015 or 2016 waiting years for their units to be completed.

The entire project was placed in receivership in 2017, when it was near completion.

By then, multiple lawsuits by creditors had already begun.

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Killeen and others who bought in early have seen their lives seriously affected.

“Hundreds of people are without homes and have had their lives altered in a significant way,” Killeen said.

They have spent money in rent or lived with family while they waited for their units.

They had hoped to be able to still take possession of their units at the prices originally contracted for years ago.

But earlier this spring, Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ruled that under B.C. law, the mortgage holders on the property had legal priority over the claims of would-be buyers.

The units are to be sold off at market rates – which are significantly higher thanks to the soaring cost of housing.

The pre-sale buyers will be allowed the right to still buy their homes, but at costs many of them cannot afford.

Killeen estimated perhaps 10 per cent will be able to afford the new condo prices.

They will also receive their deposits back, with no interest.

The B.C. Appeals Court judges hearing the case found that the law was clear.

But Killeen said the next step is not legal, but political.

It’s not unheard of for property developments to fail at some point, but usually long before structures are standing and largely complete.

“It was the first one in Canada,” said Killeen.

Real estate, consumer protection, and lending laws could be changed so that potential buyers would come before financial lenders in priority, Killeen said.

The group of pre-sale buyers are considering contacting B.C. MLAs about the issue.

The Murrayville House condos are currently in the hands of a receiver, the Bowra Group, which is responsible for sorting out the various ownership interests.

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