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Vancouver real estate: Lawsuit claims $6.7M house deal tied to private school entry

In her B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit, Mei Han claims she was under the impression that she could secure a private school spot for her daughter by buying this house.

In her B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit, Mei Han claims she was under the impression that she could secure a private school spot for her daughter by buying this house. (Google Streetview)


A failed real estate transaction has landed in B.C. Supreme Court with a Vancouver woman's claim she offered to buy a $6.7 million home as part of what she thought was a deal to gain her daughter a place in one of the city's most prestigious private schools.

In a notice of civil claim, Mei Han claims an acquaintance who owned a home opposite York House offered to broker an "alternative arrangement" which would see Han buy the property in order to lend or lease it to the school.

As a quid pro quo, Han claims the acquaintance — Lili Song — told her Han's daughter Olivia would get a much-coveted spot in York's Grade 4 class.

Han claims she put down $100,000 as proof she would purchase the home last December. But two months later, York House told her they had no place for Olivia.

"Lili never discussed with York House, or its official or representative, with regard to the alternative arrangement, and York House never agreed to same," the notice of claim says.

'Just doesn't happen'

Han is suing to get back her deposit. The notice of claim was filed in the summer.

Last month, Lili Song filed a response claiming the two never had an arrangement to get Olivia into York House. She says the money was a non-refundable deposit on a home sale contract which Han repudiated.

"Lili agreed to assist the plaintiff by informally raising with members of York House's administration the plaintiff's desire to enroll her daughter. To this end, Lili provided a letter of recommendation to York House and provided the plaintiff with some introductions," Song's response says.

"At no time did Lili represent that she would secure the plaintiff's daughter admission at York House, nor did Lili ever request, demand or require in any manner any payment from the plaintiff for her informal assistance."

York House Senior School

York House School for girls is consistently ranked among the top private schools in British Columbia. (Michael Elkin/Fast+Epp)

Founded in 1932, York House is an independent day school for girls located in Vancouver's tony Shaughnessy neighbourhood. The school is consistently rated as one of the top private schools in B.C. 

According to the school's website, tuition is nearly $20,000 a year. A non-refundable new student entrance fee is $2,500.

York House's director of communications says the school was unaware of the lawsuit — to which it is not a party.

"At York House, we've got a very stringent admissions process at the school," said Darcy Hausselman.

"Any influence by a prospective family or a third party to secure a position just doesn't happen."

Han claims she first started trying to enroll her daughter in York House in the fall of 2015. But she knew it was very difficult and sought help from friends and acquaintances.

She claims Song accompanied her to meetings with school officials who told her Olivia could only be enrolled if a current student transferred out of the school.

"Lili represented to Mei in private that, despite the ordinary practice of York House, she would be able to foster an extraordinary arrangement for Olivia to enrol, if Mei was willing to make a substantial monetary donation," the claim reads.

The 'alternative arrangement'

According to the court documents, Song owns a home which sits on the opposite side of the road from York House.

Han claims Song told her that if she bought the house for $6.7 million, she wouldn't have to donate money — she could lend or lease the property to the school instead.

But Song claims she never told Han anything in regards to the purchase of the home. She claims Han offered to buy it, and she offered to sell it because she knew the other woman was actively lobbying to get Olivia into York House.

Han claims she told Song she was no longer interested in buying the house after the school rejected her daughter.

But Song's response says the two had a contract for purchase and sale of the house which involved a non-refundable $100,000 deposit. She says by repudiating the contract to purchase the home, Han forfeited her money.

None of the claims have been proven in court.


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