More than 3

More than 3

Sunchaser case likely before courts in early 2016

The class-action lawsuit started by Sunchaser Villas timeshare owners against the property’s management company is scheduled to finally go

The class-action lawsuit started by Sunchaser Villas timeshare owners against the property’s management company is scheduled to finally go to court early next year.

The primary legal proceeding is set for a three-week trial in Vancouver starting January 4th, 2016, according to Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd. representative Brenda Behan, and the claimants’ lawyer Michael Geldert.

Mr. Geldert said things have been busy with the case and that more than 3,200 individual timeshare owners he represents will be glad to see the issue finally come to court. “(The owners) are looking to hold the resort manager accountable for its management of their time-share investmens,” he said.

“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we (Northwynd) have no further comment,” said Ms. Behan.

The case began when more than 1,000 timeshare owners at Sunchaser Villas in Fairmont Hot Springs entered into a class-action lawsuit against Northmont Resort Properties Ltd. in a dispute over a costly renovation project at the 18,950 unit villas. Northmont is a subsidiary company of Northwynd.

Sunchaser Villas was initially managed by a company called Fairmont Resort Properties Ltd., but that company filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd. then purchased Sunchaser from creditors, and now manages it through Northmont.

After the takeover, Northmont said that under previous management, owners had been paying unsustainably low maintenance fees and that a large renovation project would be required.

Owners were given the option to either pay $4,195 to keep their timeshare unit, or $3,168 to opt out.

The case has already been in court, with the B.C. Supreme Court having upheld Northmont’s ability to impose those fees in a 2013 ruling, followed by an appeal in which the B.C. Court of Appeal then  reversed that decision.

According to Mr. Geldert lawsuits of this nature normally last between one and 1.5 years, and that precedent has been set for similar lawsuits in B.C. and Alberta going back to the 1990s.

“The timeshare industry has always seemed to have issues with resort managers who, for whatever reason find themselves between a rock and a hard place, and they start making decisions that ultimately attract some liability and concern on behalf of the people they are responsible for managing,” Mr. Geldert had previously told The Echo.

The legal case has been ongoing since 2013.

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