A townhouse owner in Langford has lost privileges to the building’s guest suite after allegedly allowing a sex worker to use it for business.
In a decision by the Civil Resolution Tribunal, the man, known as T.M. in court documents has lost his rights to the guest suite at Station Villa, a 22-unit mixed use complex on Station Street, for one calendar year. He must also pay the strata any outstanding rental fees from his use of the guest suite from November 2015 to the present.
The issue began when T.M. booked the guest suite for use for approximately 12 weeks between November 2015 and March 2016.
At the time, strata rules stated owners could use the suite for a maximum of 14 days. The room is furnished in a similar way to a hotel room, with many furnishings donated by owners. The cost of maintaining the suite and its utilities are paid as a common expense of all the owners.
Fellow owners Paul Masse and Tomas Remington, T.M. and two other individuals sat on the strata council.
But by June 2016, Masse and Remington, who brought forward the complaint, became concerned about T.M.’s use of the guest suite and the appearance of guests occupying the site.
“They did some investigation which indicated his guest was a sex worker who was actively using the suite to solicit and carry on her trade,” said the document. “There is also evidence in the form of a statement by Mr. Masse setting out that there was smoking contrary to strata bylaws and potential drug use about the guest suite.”
At one point, Masse booked the guest suite for use, but upon arriving, found it was occupied by T.M.’s guest.
The woman told Masse that “an old guy living in the complex had taken her in and had provided her with the guest room to conduct her business.”
He also said she said the man was providing her with money and other items.
Shortly after, a police report was filed and the strata council looked at tightening the rules around use of the guest suite, including increasing the fees, minimum and maximum stays, revising the booking procedures and deadlines, controlling access to guest suite keys and requiring owners to pay a deposit to secure their booking.
At the time, Masse and Remington said T.M. allegedly used his position of authority to block potential changes to rules around the use of the suite, and said some strata council members had personal or business relationships with T.M., and refused to take action against him.
In June 2017, the strata council implemented new rules to govern use of the guest suite.
But T.M. said he was not aware of his guest’s commercial activities and was being treated unfairly.
He noted he owns multiple units in the building, which he believes entitled him to use the guest suite for extended periods of time.
“Based on the applicant’s evidence, I find that the guest was operating a business out of the guest suite contrary to the bylaws,” said tribunal member Maureen Abraham in her decision dated April 4.
“I find that an appropriate remedy for the respondents’ failures to enforce and comply with the rules and bylaws pertaining to the guest suite is that the respondent owner should lose the use of the guest suite for a reasonable period of time.”