Nova Scotia

How this couple's dream home lotto win turned into a headache

A Nova Scotia couple who won a luxury cottage in a QEII Foundation lottery last year say a dispute with their neighbours may force them to sell their dream retirement home. 

Nova Scotia lottery winners' decision to rent luxury cottage on Airbnb draws neighbours' ire

The couple won the three-bedroom, fully furnished cottage overlooking Chester Basin, a community on Nova Scotia's South Shore, in May 2018. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

A Nova Scotia couple who won a luxury cottage in a QEII Foundation lottery last year say an Airbnb dispute with their neighbours may force them to sell their dream retirement home. 

Troy Fahie, 46, of Middle Sackville said the 3,000-square-foot home with a view of Chester Basin is everything he and his fiancée have ever wanted. 

"They took every idea that we ever thought of, ever dreamt, and they put it in this place… It was enough to bring tears to our eyes when we got here," Fahie said. 

His fiancée, Nina Tardif, 40, won the three-bedroom, fully furnished cottage at the end of May 2018, after spending $550 on three tickets in the QEII Home Lottery, in support of the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation. 

"Your mind's going in every direction… It was just, it was so crazy," Fahie said about the day they won. 

The home came with $15,000 cash and a luxury golf package. 

Their cottage at 64 Skipper Hill Dr. sits on a gated road among 12 other new homes, with tax assessments that range from $318,000 to $614,000.

Fahie, a truck driver, and Tardif, a roofer, say it's a property far beyond anything they ever dreamed of owning.

"I've been wanting to build a house in the future, but everything that we want we wouldn't be able to afford."

Troy Fahie said winning the 3,000-square-foot cottage was a dream come true: 'It was just, it was so crazy.' (Brian MacKay/CBC)

Fahie said the 40-minute commute is too far for the family's younger child, who attends high school in Sackville. So they plan to continue living in Middle Sackville, and aim to retire to Skipper Hill Drive in five or six years.

But the cottage property costs roughly $13,500 a year to own, between taxes, insurance and utilities, plus maintenance fees. 

Fahie said supporting two homes would be a painful stretch. 

"We would be penny pinching. We wouldn't have much of a life, right? It's just every ounce of money that we'd have, we'd have to put it off to the side so that we can keep this place," he said.

"This was gonna be our retirement. So we came up with the idea to put it on Airbnb. The money from that will help pay the taxes."

'The old stink-eye'

Fahie and Tarif offered their cottage on the short-term rental site Airbnb for July and August this year, listing the property at $400 per night, with a 10 per cent discount for stays over four days. 

But this hasn't proved popular with their neighbours. 

"Someone actually called and put a complaint in because they're playing washer [toss] at 9 at night. I mean it's kind of ridiculous right?" Fahie said. 

He said he has hosted guests from Scotland, Texas and the Middle East so far this summer. 

The owners have rented out the cottage on Airbnb for $400 per night. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

But he said his guests have felt less than welcomed. 

"The old stink-eye… They'll wave to certain neighbours, and they'll just put their nose up in the air and walk away," Fahie said. 

"Somebody showed up here and told them they had to be in bed by 11 o'clock, and none of the neighbours want an Airbnb here. … It's a bit of an invasion on their part," he said. 

None of the neighbours contacted by CBC News would comment on the dispute.

Disagreement over covenants

Fahie said the developer of Skipper Hill Estates, Jon Dimick, told him his neighbours are unhappy, and short-term rentals are banned by the restrictive covenants that govern the subdivision. Such covenants are most often used by developers to enforce architectural and design guidelines in neighbourhoods.

Fahie also said Dimick told him his family has been banned from Skipper Hill's wharf because some of his Airbnb clients launched his sea kayaks there. 

Dimick declined to comment to CBC News on any aspect of his development or the Airbnb dispute. 

A copy of the Skipper Hill development's covenants provided to CBC News does not specifically restrict short-term rentals, only businesses run out of a home.

An inaugural meeting of the Skipper Hill Estates and Marina Home Owners' Association is scheduled for Aug. 27. 

An agenda provided by Fahie shows only one item of new business, after electing a board of directors: "Discussion of short-term rentals and vote with respect to potential changes to restrictive covenants." 

"I'll never move into a community that has a [home owners' association] ever again," Fahie said. 

"It's like a bully system. It's play by our rules, or we're going to make it rough on you guys."

QEII Home Lottery raises millions

Since 2003, the QEII Home Lottery has raised $74 million for the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

Fahie said he's still a fan of the lottery. 

"I wouldn't say anything bad with when it comes to the QEII because it's for a bigger cause."

The lottery has given away six cottages on Skipper Hill Estates since 2016. 

The foundation wouldn't comment on Fahie's situation.

"The QEII Foundation cannot comment on any particular issue between a land title holder and a developer," Bill Bean, president and CEO of the QEII Foundation, wrote in an email. 

Uncertain future

Fahie said his family will wait for the outcome of the Aug. 27 vote to see how to proceed. 

He thinks the property would be easy to sell, and he's already been offered nearly $900,000 for it. 

He still hopes to live on Skipper Hill Drive some day, even if his family is different from others on the street. 

"It's just one of them things, that if, I think the more money you've got, the more you'll fit in." 

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