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Parents sue son, daughter-in-law after life becomes 'untenable' in Richmond home

When the family decided to move to a new home in Richmond, it was understood that the arrangement for the parents to live with their son would continue
Li Li Pao Chiu and Yu Chung Chiu. They are suing their son and daughter-in-law. VIA VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER — Two parents are taking their son and his wife to court over a dispute that they say has resulted in life becoming untenable at a Richmond home shared by the family.

In the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Yu Chung Chiu and Li Li Pao Chiu are suing Simon Wan Hou Chiu and Lee May Priscilla Li over the situation that has developed at the home on Mclean Avenue.

Before moving into the Richmond property, the family had lived together for several years at a home on Gilley Avenue in Burnaby.

The parents, who are retired, say that they provided their son with US$100,000 toward the down payment for the Gilley home, which was sold in June 2018 for Cdn$835,000. The home’s current assessed value is $1,272,000, says the lawsuit.

They say that when the family decided to move to the new home in Richmond, it was understood that the proceeds of sale of the Gilley property would finance the new home and that the arrangement for the parents to live with their son would continue.

“As is common in their culture, the parties understood that the plaintiffs would live with Simon for the rest of their lives,” says the suit.

The parents say they were not involved in selling the Gilley home and purchasing the Mclean home since they trusted their son to hold to his promise and to their arrangement as joint titleholders. They say they have since learned that only their son and his wife were put on the title to the Mclean home.

Throughout their time living together the parents say they have contributed to helping the family, including cooking for the defendants and the grandchildren, cleaning, making contributions to the maintenance of the properties, purchasing groceries and incurring other household expenses.

But for reasons that are unclear to them, what had been a loving and happy relationship began to deteriorate in late summer, they say. In September, their son and his wife began to demand they leave the property, they say.

The parents claim that there has been an effort to make life intolerable, including the disconnection of their internet access, locks put on the laundry room and the pantry, and threats to install cameras in their living area to monitor them.

To attend to the basic necessities of life, the parents say they’ve been forced to bring their dirty clothes to the homes of friends or other family members.

“With their entire life savings tied up in the Gilley property and now the Mclean property, the plaintiffs have nowhere else to go. The parties have reached an untenable living situation.”

The plaintiffs want a certificate of pending litigation that would freeze title of the Mclean property and a declaration that ‘beneficial’ ownership in the property should be made for them in a proportion to be determined by the court.

They also want a court order that the property be sold and that they be given exclusive conduct of the sale in addition to general, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages.

No response has been filed to the lawsuit, which contains allegations that have not been tested in court. The defendants could not be reached for comment.

In an email forwarded by their lawyer, Matthew Smith, the parents say they love their son, his wife and their grandchildren and are “deeply saddened” by the conduct of the son and his wife.

“We don’t understand why they are doing this to us. For many years we have worked to support and care for them and their children. We put our life savings into the family home we share. We have nothing else. We feel that we have exhausted all avenues outside the court system to resolve the situation.”

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