VANCOUVER — A condo owner has been ordered to stop using his property for business purposes — including alleged "prostitution related activities" — after his neighbours went to court armed with evidence they put together through dedicated sleuthing.
Court documents say residents of the building in Burnaby, B.C., started raising concerns in August 2015 about visitors and disturbances at a unit owned by Christopher Nino Diopita.
In a petition filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, neighbours reported hearing sounds of alleged physical violence and "hysterical screaming" coming from the unit as well as seeing women letting men into the building.
Affidavits filed in the case say residents referred to the unit as a "brothel."
In a lengthy affidavit, one resident said the activity in Diopita's unit made him feel uneasy, so he started investigating.
He did online research, saying he compared a real estate listing for the condo to ads for escort services in Burnaby and found several similarities, including unique carvings on the bed posts.
He also contacted several sex workers pretending to be a potential client.
"I created a fake online account and contacted women who posted prostitution-related advertisements relating to (Diopita's unit) for the purpose of obtaining evidence that prostitution is taking place," the affidavit says.
When asked for a rendezvous spot, some of the women gave the address of the unit, it says.
The condo board's petition says the property manager spoke with Diopita about the neighbours' concerns. It says Diopita replied that his girlfriend was operating a tattoo business.
The board's bylaws prohibit tenants and owners from using the property to operate a business, and the board sent Diopita letters asking him to stop the alleged commercial activities. He was also issued $8,000 in fines.
Diopita, who could not be reached for comment, did not reply to the petition in any court filings.
In an 2015 email filed as evidence in the case, Diopita wrote to the building's manager, saying he had moved to Ohio. He described his financial situation as "basically pitiful" and said he was planning to sell the unit.
Court documents say he did not respond to the letters or fines, so in November the condo board asked a judge for an order banning him from the property and forcing him to sell his unit.
The judge issued an order Tuesday that says Diopita cannot use his condo for any kind of business, including "prostitution related activities," and bans him from causing or allowing unreasonable noise in the unit.
He has not been banned from the property or forced to sell the unit.
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Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press