Father sues daughter over illicit $450,000 townhouse purchase

A judge ruled in the father’s favour this month in B.C. Supreme Court

A legal battle over the ownership of a Langley townhouse pitted father against daughter in a B.C. courtroom.

Shaoqing Li recently won a lawsuit against his daughter, Xingzi Li and her husband, Minwoo Kim, after alleging the couple used his money to buy the property without his knowledge.

“This case involves a highly contentious and acrimonious dispute between a father and his daughter,” wrote Justice Paul Walker, in the first of two judgments in the case. “At first blush, their dispute appears to concern money. Underlying it, though, are a daughter’s festering resentment towards her father and stepmother resulting from her parents’ divorce and her unwillingness to accept her father’s marriage to anyone other than her biological mother and the birth of her stepbrother.”

Mr. Li was a Chinese factory manager. His daughter Ms. Li moved to Canada to study at Trinity Western University and become a Canadian citizen some years ago. Mr. Li had divorced his first wife, Ms. Li’s mother, and remarried in 2003.

According to a judgment handed down in B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. Li, nearing retirement, planned to come to live in Canada with his daughter. In 2015, he sent his teenaged son to live with Ms. Li and her husband, and to start attending school in Canada.

Around the same time, Mr. Li sent about $600,000 to his daughter and son-in-law, intending they use it for various purposes, including buying a house for himself and his second wife, for the education of his son, and for any fees related to immigrating to join his daughter.

Instead, according to a 2017 judgment, Ms. Li and her husband spent $423,900 on various items for themselves, including a $133,776 down payment on a $450,000 Langley townhouse, repairs and renovations to another house where Kim and Ms. Li lived, a vacation, legal fees, and the purchase of a $51,376 pickup truck.

In the 2017 trial, Wallace found that Ms. Li and Kim had been “unjustly enriched” and were liable to Mr. Li for the missing $423,900, as well as a $10,000 loan that was never repaid.

But there were further court proceedings this year, as Ms. Li claimed that she was still the part-owner of the townhouse she had bought using her father’s money.

As of the end of last year, the townhouse was valued at $520,000.

Over two years, from 2015 to 2017, Ms. Li made a profit of more than $5,300 by renting out the townhouse, while paying the mortgage and strata fees from the rent income.

She claimed a 58.7 per cent interest in the home, with her father to have 41.3 per cent.

Mr. Li argued that he was the rightful owner of the townhouse.

“The mortgage, [Mr. Li] says, was only secured as a result of some of his funds, which were stolen by his daughter, being used for the down payment,” said Wallace’s recent judgment.

Wallace agreed with the father, ruling that Mr. Li is the owner of the whole of the townhouse, because it could not have been purchased without using his funds. Ms. Li did not put any of her own money into the down payment.

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