Brothel next door? Condo owners incensed by alleged sex trade suite
By Tina Lovgreen, Yvette Brend
10 January 2018
submitted this photo in his affidavit, claiming he took it on Sept. 14,
2016, followed by a description that RCMP officers entered the unit and
pulled out a young girl neighbours allege to have seen earlier. (B.C.
In a default judgment, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice has ordered a
Burnaby condo owner to stop alleged "prostitution related" activity,
after one neighbour recorded a heated fight in the hallway and saw
streams of men being let into the building in the early hours of the
The condo owners complained after hearing what sounded like violent
fights in the hallways — and in one case a "hysterical" young woman
crying, saying "I can't do this anymore," according to their affidavits.
They filed a civil lawsuit alleging that their neighbour was renting
space to prostitutes so they could entertain clients. At first, they
allege the owner said it was a tattoo business, denying all claims.
But the owners of Timberlea Birch apartments didn't back down, alleging
that condo-owner Christopher Nino Diopita is jeopardizing their safety
and breaking strata bylaws that prohibit use of the unit for commercial
or business operations.
"The neighbours that are living close by have been afraid," said
Stephen Hamilton, lawyer for the condo owners in the Burnaby tower.
this unassuming condo tower say many have lived there for decades, but
recently there have been increasing demands by newcomers to rent out
suites and that has led to some very unusual problems in one unit.
"There have been strange men coming in and out of the unit, you can
imagine with the activity that is taking place there, there is drug
activity, there is partying, there has been violent activity at times
and police have come to the unit time and time again," said Hamilton.
When calls to the RCMP and threats of $8,000 in bylaw fines went
nowhere, the residents went to court.
On Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Justin McEwan ordered a stop to
any use of the unit for commercial or business purposes, including
prostitution-related activities, to restrain from causing or allowing
unreasonable noise, including yelling, screaming or playing loud music
and to pay the cost of the strata's court proceedings.
'It happens more
than we think'
It's not the first situation like this in the province, according to
Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners
Association of B.C.
"My suspicion is it happens more than we think, because we get a number
of discreet phone calls about activities going on in buildings," he
But he said it's rare that such allegations end up in court, as most
owners fear complaining will put them at risk or drive down the price
of their home.
"The tragedy is, is that it has to be dealt with. Because it also goes
directly to the personal safety of our people who live in our
buildings," he said.
In this case, the lawyer said residents went to great lengths to prove
the alleged activities.
Affidavits submitted to the court show neighbours taking meticulous
notes about the comings and goings of Unit 502, Diopita's suite.
One neighbour pretended to be seeking out escort services in order to
confirm the location.
The neighbour also pulled photographs from real estate listings to
compare to online escort advertisements in the area, then submitted
images that showed similar pillars and bedding, to court.
One of the many
photographs a neighbour submitted in their affidavit, comparing real
estate listings to online escort advertisements in the area. (B.C.
In one account, the resident said the unit was rented for use by young
women, with one incident involving a teen who appeared no older than 15.
One evening, the neighbour alleges he heard what were believed to be
"sounds of physical violence and someone choking from inside Unit 502."
Court documents claim that RCMP officers showed up and removed the girl
from the suite.
If Diopita fails to comply with the court orders, the strata will seek
an order to have him sell the unit and remove him permanently from the
Diopita could not be reached for comment and has not yet filed a
response to the civil claim.