In a decision made last November, the B.C. Supreme Court sided with the property managers for Sunchaser Vacation Villas in Fairmont Hot Springs, and dinged the timeshare owners with massive bills after a renovation project – but those on the hook aren’t going down without a fight.
Many timeshare owners are fighting the court’s decision by attempting to appeal it with the help of Vancouver’s Geldert Law. No injunction has been sought, meaning that owners will still be subject to late payment charges and 2014 maintenance fees if the appeal fails.
The timeshare units were managed by Fairmont Resort Properties Ltd., which declared bankruptcy in 2008 and was subsequently purchased by Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd. and re-named Sunchaser Vacation Villas.
Plans to undergo massive upgrades obligated each owner to pay thousands of dollars in addition to their annual maintenance fees. Many owners felt that the sum of the charges were unreasonable and filed a class action lawsuit.
After the timeshare owners (who formed the Owners Association) and property managers — Northmont Resort Properties, the management arm of Northwynd Resort Properties — both made their cases in the B.C. Supreme Court in October, a decision was made in November siding with Northwynd, allowing the property owners to collect.
A sum of $4,195 (described as the “Reason to stay” option on the sunchaservillas.ca website) has been charged for the upgrades to each owner, unless they choose to give up their maintenance responsibility, along with their lease, for a cost of $3,168 (described as the “Freedom to choose” option on the website).
Leaseholders have created a website, sunchaserowners.ca, and a Facebook page, titled “Owners Association – Fairmont Sunchaser Northwynd Resort”, to vent their frustrations about their limited options.
“Because I didn’t choose either option (within two months) I was suddenly in default and was told they would no longer honour my booked reservation,” wrote one owner, who claimed to have paid the 2013 annual fees, on the Facebook page. “Suddenly I was a delinquent account. “What a joke. I don’t want to leave other timeshare owners with my debt so we are paying this extortion fee and walking away.”
Many concerns exist that the resort will declare bankruptcy after collecting the money but before following through with the renovation.
“If they enter Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection as have their predecessors, it will probably affect many of the businesses in the valley,” reads a message from one concerned owner. “We are not going to be using our two units this year with what they are demanding we pay. We have enjoyed all of our vacations over there since 1998 and are disgusted with what the operator is attempting to do with the property.”
But only those who choose the “Reason to stay” option will be financially supporting the renovation, a Northwynd representative stated in an online forum.
“Cancellation fees have never been for the renovation and we have never suggested they are”, wrote a user called Northwynd CC. “The cancellation fee is a payment to Northmont as developer for agreeing to terminate your lease/ownership.”
Calls to Northwynd and Geldert Law were not returned by The Valley Echo’s press deadline.