Court appeal doesn’t deter Sunchaser property owners

The property managers at Sunchaser Villas are still expecting their renovation fees.

Despite an appeal against a court decision last month which ruled in their favour, the property managers at Sunchaser Villas are still expecting their renovation fees.

The decision that was overturned on Friday, June 13th came in November 2013, when the BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of the property managers right to impose extensive renovation fees upon all timeshare owners at the resort. Owners were given two options: pay $4,195 to keep each timeshare unit, or pay $3,168 to part with the asset. The fees were calculated by a consulting firm hired by Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd., the development company that purchased Sunchaser after it defaulted in 2009.

Kirk Wankel, the chief executive officer of Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd., said that obligatory maintenance duties and upgrades had been neglected by the previous owners — Fairmont Resort Properties Ltd. — and a backlog of issues have to be addressed. And even though the BC Supreme Court reversed November’s ruling last month, Mr. Wankel said all owners with outstanding accounts are still on the hook for the renovation fees.

“From a legal perspective, this turned ‘yes’ into ‘undecided’ – not a ‘yes’ into a ‘no’,” he said. “We will pursue collection from them like any other account. The owners are still bound by their contracts and we’re still enforcing them.”

But he admits the recent appeal will make it more difficult to convince owners they rightfully owe the money.

“It’s hard to say what effect this’ll have on [owners not involved in the lawsuit]. Renovation operations are based on the fees collected by the resort… people we hoped would stop being in default will likely be in default longer.”

There are 18,950 time share units that are part of the property, and the issue wound up in court because about 950 of the owners filed a class-action lawsuit.

As legal experts figure out who’s right, owners with outstanding accounts are being charged interest by the property management company.

Northwynd could take the issue deeper into legal limbo, but the property management company won’t be appealing the appeal, Mr. Wankel said, as the decision would be tied up for years in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The number of time share units at the resort will be less after the completion of the renovation program, as many owners will choose to opt-out, he said. As many owners are still fighting the decision, it is not currently known how many units will still be part of the resort after the renovations.

In an online forum used by many Sunchaser owners, skepticism has been expressed towards Northwynd’s long-term commitment to the resort, worrying some owners that the thousands of four-figure renovation fees could be collected before the bulk of the work is completed.

“If we were going to run away with the money, why would we set up a $100-a-month payment plan?” Mr. Wankel said. “If we were going to cut and run, we would have already.”

Renovations are currently taking place in the 300, 400, and 800 buildings at Sunchaser in Fairmont Hot Springs.

Mr. Wankel said that many owners are looking at the situation from their own perspective and personal desire not to pay, while Northwynd is focusing on the big picture for Sunchaser.

And though he often bears the brunt of the timeshare owners’ frustration, Mr. Wankel said he believes firmly in the renovation project.

“There’s no doubt that this isn’t fun; I’ve been defamed significantly and repeatedly online, called crook and fraud — you name it.”

He said he genuinely believes a fair middle ground has been reached for all groups involved.

“I don’t want to see honest owners get sacrificed for a small group that wants to breach their contracts.”