A Vancouver woman did not breach her contract after backing out of a deal to buy a house where someone had been murdered, a B.C. judge has ruled.
Justice Paul Pearlman said in a recent decision that the homeowner, Mei Zhen Wang, should have disclosed that the 9,018-square-foot mansion at 3883 Cartier St. in Shaughnessy had been a site of a murder when she sold it to Feng Yun Shao for $6,138,000 in 2009.
Shao had wanted to buy a “prestigious, safe and quiet” home, Pearlman wrote, but Wang fraudulently misrepresented it by not telling her that her son-in-law, Raymond Huang, was gunned down near the front gate in 2007.
She alleged the unsolved murder of Huang, who, according to the decision, was a member of a Chinese gang dubbed the Big Circle Boys, “rendered the property dangerous, or potentially dangerous, and constituted a latent defect.”
She told the judge she feared for her and her family’s safety once she learned of the murder.
Wang’s daughter and Huang’s wife, Gui Ying Yuan, testified that she, her two children and her older sister lived in the house between 2003 and 2008 and felt safe, and that they were moving because her daughter had gotten into a school in West Vancouver.
Wang herself, though, wasn’t consistent on why she wanted to sell, saying at one time she wanted to buy a smaller home, and another time that she feared for her family’s safety. The judge concluded the murder was one of the reasons for the sale.
Realtors Matthew Yee and Julia Lau worked for Yuan, who’d been selling the home on behalf of her mother, and said they did not legally have to disclose the death unless a buyer asked about it directly because it had occurred just off the property, which is according to law.
The judge acknowledged Shao did not do her own research, nor did she ask her real estate agent to do so. But she did ask why the family was selling, and was entitled to an accurate answer, “rather than one calculated to conceal Mr. Huang’s death as a reason for the plaintiff’s decision to sell the property.”
Wang was ordered to return Shao’s $300,000 deposit, plus interest, and several thousand dollars in damages and court costs.