A suite in Central Heights Manor on King Road in Abbotsford was the subject of a recent court case. (Google Street View)

A suite in Central Heights Manor on King Road in Abbotsford was the subject of a recent court case. (Google Street View)

B.C. woman slapped with fine for living in late mother’s 55+ condo

Coralee Stevens, 48, fought to reside in Fraser Valley complex for those 55 and older

An Abbotsford woman who was gifted her mom’s strata unit has been ordered to pay more than $13,000 in fines after a judge ruled she had been living in the suite contrary to the complex’s age-restriction bylaws.

Coralee Stevens, now 48, became sole owner of the unit – located in Central Heights Manor on King Road in Abbotsford – when her mother passed away in March 2015. The strata bylaws require occupants to be at least 55 years old.

According to court documents, Stevens wrote a letter to the strata council, requesting permission to live there after her mother died. She said it was her mom’s wish that she have somewhere to live for the rest of her life.

“I am a person with a disability on a lifetime government pension. I currently live in an apartment in Abbotsford that, after my rent is paid, I have very little left over,” Stevens wrote.

The documents state that she asked the council to take into account that she was a single person with no children or pets, and that she would continue to live quietly.

According to the documents, Stevens was informed in April 2015 that the strata council had denied her request to live in the condo, and she was later warned that she could be fined if she breached any bylaws.

The owner and occupant of the unit next to the one owned by Stevens testified in court that he saw Stevens moving into the unit in January 2016. He testified that a moving van was there, and items were unloaded into the suite.

“He was concerned about what appeared to be a clear violation of the age restriction bylaw that all of the strata owners were subject to, and he lodged a complaint with the strata council,” Judge Kenneth Skilnick wrote in his recent ruling in small claims court.

Stevens was then issued another letter, indicating she could be subject to a $200 fine every seven days if she was indeed living in the unit.

According to the court documents, Stevens wrote back, admitting that she had moved into the suite on Jan. 1 because she had nowhere to go and would otherwise be homeless.

“The defendant explained that her only source of income was a government disability pension and that she would have been cut off of that if she owned a home that she was not living in,” the judge’s ruling states.

A vote on allowing Stevens to stay was taken at the council’s annual general meeting on Jan. 20, 2016, but it was defeated 40-9.

The council claimed that Stevens continued to live in the suite. She received a letter in April 2016 that, because she had failed to comply with the bylaws, she was being fined for the time she had been living there and was told she owed $3,990.

The fines were not paid, and the strata council filed a lawsuit against Stevens in July 2016.

The first case was held in BC Supreme Court in July 2017, at which time Stevens said she did not reside on the premises and was sleeping in her off-site trailer.

But the judge said Stevens was using the suite daily to cook her meals, bathe, and do laundry, and was sleeping there at least two days a week, as well as keeping many of her personal items there.

He said these behaviours constituted her residing in the unit, and she was in breach of the bylaws from Jan. 4, 2016 to July 13, 2017.

The matter then proceeded to small claims court in Abbotsford, where Stevens argued that the earlier court decision was wrong and maintained that she had not been living in the suite during the time the fines had been levied.

Skilnick sided with the judge in the first case and ordered last month that Stevens pay the accrued fines of $13,400.

He acknowledged that Stevens’s “unwillingness to respect the outcome of the (strata council) vote” stemmed from emotion after losing her mother, her personal health issues and fear about her finances.

But he said the strata owners were “not unreasonable” when they voted against allowing Stevens to stay because she was under the age of 55.

“This is what they paid for when they bought their units, and it must seem unfair to them that one person could unilaterally deny them this right,” Skilnick said.

READ THE FULL READING HERE

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Last week warming temperatures were a concern for Avalanche Canada forecasters, and those trends likely contributed to an avalanche that killed a West Kootenay snowmobiler on Thursday, March 4. Jen Coulter file photo.
Warming trend contributed to Kaslo fatality: Avalanche Canada

Concern for persistent layers has reduced since then

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
Father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

The Trail Smoke Eaters hope to hear news this week on a potential return to play. Photo: Jim Bailey
Smoke Eaters, league still wait for go ahead from province

The BCHL is trying to work out a return to play plan with the province

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Forty-eight vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

Most Read