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ISU lawsuit chalets in foreclosure

Whistler landlords say they were financially hurt through Olympic rental program

At least four of the properties the ISU was signed up to rent during the Olympics are now in foreclosure.

This week, real estate agents with Sea to Sky Premier Properties and the Whistler Real Estate Company confirmed the "chalet" homes owned by businessman Rumi Merali have entered legal proceedings and are under a court order sale.

The properties are the same ones involved in a lawsuit Merali and his partner Frances Pull launched last week against the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit (ISU).

According to documents recently filed with the B.C. Supreme Court, two years ago the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) signed contracts with Merali and Pull to rent out five Whistler properties during the Olympics.

The contracts, worth $687,500 total, ran from January until April of 2010, with four of the properties leased through Merali and one through Pull.

But a year before the Olympics, the ISU suddenly broke off all of the deals, say the plaintiffs.

The "wrongful" breach of contracts allegedly started on April 9, 2009 when the ISU noted that one of Merali's rental units was also listed for sale.

The lawsuit said the ISU was "high-handed and arrogant and in blatant disregard of the contract right of the Plaintiff, Rumi Merali" when it cancelled the deal. Merali said the property at 6151 Eagle Drive was not listed for sale between May 2009 and March 2010.

The Whistler Cay house at 6151 Eagle Dive is one of the units currently under foreclosure.

The six-bedroom log home is on sale for $2,150,000, and features "rare native carvings, heated floors, a floating staircase, granite counters and a gourmet kitchen," according to the Whistler Listing System.

Meanwhile, on the same day in April 2009 the ISU also allegedly pulled out of Merali's other properties, saying that the units were unacceptable because they had evidence of mold, water leaks and excessive wear and tear, like broken flooring.

Merali said all the Whistler Cay and White Gold properties were actually in good repair and complied with all safety and health regulations. All three units were occupied by satisfied tenants and were superior in quality to other units rented out by the ISU for the Olympics, read the statement.

The three properties were located at 6104 Eagle Drive, 6137 Eagle Drive and 7453 Ambassador Crescent, renting for an average of  $152,000 each during the Winter Games.

They are all now in foreclosure and under a court order sale, priced between $850,000 and $1.3 million, according to the Whistler Listing System.

The court documents go onto say that also in April 2009, the ISU also ended their contract with Pull.

The security unit allegedly said the internal stairwell at her 3317 Lakeside Road property did not conform to existing building regulations and that there were water leaks in the propriety.

But the ISU should have known the Pull's property was older before agreeing to rent the home for $78,000, reads the claim. Pull also said the stairways do not pose any safety concerns, and the Alta Lake home doesn't have significant water leaks.

Merali and Pull both live in the Lakeside Road home.

Now, the two landlords want the ISU to pay for their lost rent and damages for breach of contract.

The lawsuit, filed on May 31, is against the Attorney General of Canada, the body of government that overseas the ISU.

David Taylor from the downtown Vancouver law firm Taylor Sourisseau Tatchell is representing the couple.

The landlords both have a history of litigation, with 17 court files against Merali and 5 against Pull since 1993, according to documents with the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General.