Illegal hostel owner ordered to pay back North Van strata

The woman who ran an illegal hostel out of her Central Lonsdale townhouse has been ordered to pay the hefty legal bills her strata rang up trying to shut her down.

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered Emily Yu to pay back more than $52,000 to her strata following a years-long legal dispute and multiple court appearances.

Yu advertised her three-bedroom townhouse at 230 West 13th St. as the “Oasis Hostel” and various other names on short-term rental websites like Airbnb, Hostelworld.com and VRBO, and, according to court rulings, sometimes welcomed more than a dozen guests per night. Her strata took her to the Civil Resolution Tribunal in 2017, which ruled Yu had broken the strata bylaw prohibiting rentals of less than six months.

Yu appealed the CRT ruling in 2018, which a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed and ordered that each party pay their own legal costs.

But Yu continued to rent her rooms out on a short-term basis and the strata was forced to apply to have her found in contempt of court. The courts agreed and Yu was found to be in civil contempt and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines to her strata, as well as “reasonable legal costs” her strata had paid.

The strata submitted all of their legal invoices and costs, which court documents show added up to $61,212.46.

Yu and her lawyer went through every line item in the invoices looking for items that were not “reasonable and necessary” for the strata’s prosecution and asked the court to eliminate them from the assessment.

“Although represented by counsel at the time, Ms. Yu did not give evidence, but did provide an affidavit of largely irrelevant material and a plea for sympathy. Unfortunately for Ms. Yu, my task is to assess the reasonable amount of fees and disbursements charged by counsel to its client, the owners, Strata Plan VR 812 pursuant to court order. I do not have any discretion regarding her plea for sympathy,” B.C. Supreme Court Master Grant Taylor wrote in his decision on Aug. 16. “The principle, in its simplest form is that the owners are entitled to be reimbursed for their reasonable legal expenses incurred to bring recalcitrant owners in breach of the strata’s bylaws into compliance.”

Still, Taylor agreed items that were not relevant to the case, including bills submitted for “anticipated costs,” invoices from a separate law firm, and invoices for media interviews.

Yu has been given 60 days to pay her strata $52,100.

Previously, she was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines to her strata for violating their bylaws as well as a $5,000 fine for being found in contempt of court.