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Legal Action Brought Against Schooner Bay Ventures

A group of Schooner Bay homeowners have joined a legal action alleging the developer has “unlawfully interfered” with their rights and breached their covenants, with the trial due in March 2018.

Additionally, local Real Estate companies are having police look into the disappearance of signs on the road verges near the development.

Bill Albury of Sotheby’s said their signs were located across the road from Schooner Bay, “not on the development’s property,” however, they along with others on both sides of the road in the area, have been removed.

He said it was reported to him that management had an employee remove them, adding that the matter is with the police now.

Documents reveal that the group became involved in a disagreement between Schooner Bay Ventures and their Bahamian property manager, which ultimately cost them the opportunity to market their properties via a magazine with a 4.5 million monthly readership.

They are claiming that the developer, headed by US principals Dr. David Huber and Tina Gascoigne, caused Coastal Living magazine to withdraw from featuring their properties in its vacation rental program.

Schooner Bay Ventures, according to the document, informed the magazine that the homeowners’ property manager, Destination Schooner Bay (DSB), was breaching the 220-acre project’s covenants by its activities within the development.

The ongoing lawsuit was referred to in a letter to Carl Bethel QC, the attorney general, by attorneys for DSB and its principal, Bahamian realtor James Malcolm.

Jason Maynard, of Peter Maynard & Company, described it as an action claiming that the developer “has unlawfully interfered with DSB’s legitimate business activities at Schooner Bay and, as a result, has suffered loss and damage”. Further details are provided in a May 13, 2016, letter sent by the homeowners’ attorney, Gail Lockhart-Charles, to Courtney Pearce at Callenders & Co, who handles all litigation matters for Schooner Bay Ventures.

“The homeowners all wish to have the properties advertised in the Coastal Living Vacations Rental programme, and other such rental programmes as DSB, in its capacity as property manager, may arrange,” Mrs. Lockhart-Charles wrote.

“It has come to our clients’ attention that Schooner Bay Ventures has contacted Coastal Living and raised concerns that DSB’s management of the homeowners’ Schooner Bay home rentals is a violation of the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions governing Schooner Bay.”

It was previously reported that Ms. Gascoigne, Schooner Bay’s general counsel, had cited the ‘covenants and restrictions’ in demanding that Mr. Malcolm and DSB “cease and desist operations” at the development and not suggest he could provide rental or property management services.

That April 17, 2015, letter had described Schooner Bay as being “the only entity with the exclusive authority to operate real estate sales, rental or management offices at Schooner Bay” – something that violates Bahamian real estate law, as developers cannot engage in such businesses.

Mrs Lockhart-Charles, responding to the citing of Schooner Bay’s covenants, wrote: “Our clients dispute the allegations made by Schooner Bay Ventures that DSB’s management of the homeowners’ Schooner Bay home rentals is a violation of the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions governing Schooner Bay.

“The actions of Schooner Bay Ventures in contacting Coastal Living, as alleged, amount to an actionable infringement of our clients’ rights and have caused our clients loss and damage.”

She continued: “As a result of Schooner Bay Ventures’ actions, Coastal Living has informed our clients that they are not able to move forward with placing the homeowners’ properties in the Coastal Living vacation rental programme until the dispute between DSB and Schooner Bay Ventures is resolved in a way that makes it clear to Coastal Living that they can proceed without any risk.”

Mrs. Lockhart-Charles demanded on her clients’ behalf that Schooner Bay Ventures “immediately issue a written retraction” of its statements to Coastal Living, and confirm they had a right to place their properties in the rental programme and advertise them in the magazine and other publications.

Sources have alleged that the various legal actions stem from the developer’s desire to control all real estate activity at Schooner Bay. However, this strategy appears to have backfired, with much of the south Abaco development’s sales and rental activity having dried up over the past four years.

Schooner Bay Ventures is now on its fourth foreign real estate sales team in four years, having gone through Pordes Residential Sales and Marketing; Arizona-based Land Advisors Resort Solutions; Carolina-located Burnett Partners; and now Legacy Global Development.

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