A recent case from the Alberta Court of Appeal dealt with a dispute between two brothers regarding the ownership of a rental property in Calgary. When purchased, the property was registered in both names as joint tenants. Later on, a dispute arose as to ownership.
Basically, Eric claimed his proportionate share of the equity in the property while Lucas stated Eric was only on title to help him obtain a mortgage as he did not qualify by himself. The case was then decided on the facts that were presented by each party. Eric was able to show that he contributed to the insurance and utilities and helped make improvements to the house. He also provided monthly payments that were designed to contribute to the mortgage. Lucas stated that Eric was living on the property and his monthly contributions were merely the rent.
The Court decided there was enough evidence to support Eric’s position that he deserved a share of the property. In particular, they pointed out that each party contributed money to purchasing the property and that was prima facie evidence that each acquired ownership. It was then up to Lucas to overcome that evidence and show that Eric really only held the property as trustee for Lucas. At the initial application, the Judge had determined that Eric was not a joint tenant and held his interest in the property as trustee only for the benefit of Lucas.
This case illustrates several points.
Please contact us at Galbraith Law to discuss Co-Ownership Agreements or other agreements that can provide certainty and avoid mega-costly disputes.