In a Supreme Court ruling posted online Tuesday a judge sided with the parents in a case against their daughter after the parents paid $110,000 to assist in purchasing a home in Colwood for her to use while she pursued post-graduate study at Royal Roads University.
The 37-year-old daughter, with the initials K.G.M., claimed the money was a gift; while the parents, represented by T.L.G and G.A.G, say it was an investment for their retirement. Neither of the parties sought legal advice or documented the arrangement, leading to a dispute before the courts.
T.L.G is a 66-year-old registered nurse and G.A.G. is a 68-year-old marine mechanic living in Campbell River. The couple also has a son.
The judgment reads that until the dispute arose in 2016, the family had a relatively normal family relationship. “It is not in dispute that the plaintiffs have been supportive of both children,” writes Justice Punnett. That support included providing each child with a vehicle, helping with the costs of education, making various other gifts to both children, covering the cost of elective surgery for their daughter along with advancing a loan to their son to assist in his purchase of a home which the parents owned in Port Hardy.
“The defendant relies on her parents’ assistance to her brother to support her position they gifted her the funds for a home,” Punnett writes.
“The plaintiffs assisted him by renting an apartment for him while he was in school. They also gave him a truck when he was 16 years of age. In 2006, the plaintiffs purchased a house in Port Hardy for $107,000 for their son to live in, but registered it in their own names. They granted a mortgage to the Royal Bank of Canada for $80,250.00. They sold the property to their son on June 10, 2010 for $170,000.”
The parents testified the money was a loan which has since been repaid by their son. T.L.G., the mother, stated she removed funds from her retirement fund to pay $16,000 for the daughter’s surgery because it was, according to T.L.G., “the first time their daughter wanted to lose weight and become healthy.” This was a gift, as the plaintiffs knew their daughter could not afford it.
The daughter took three months off in order to prepare for the MCAT and her parents supported her. She applied to medical school but was not accepted.
According to the judgment “in 2011, the defendant decided to pursue a Master of Science in Environment and Management at Royal Roads University. The plaintiffs testified their daughter had been living in poor rental accommodations, and when she decided to pursue a Master of Science, they viewed it as an opportunity to purchase property in or near Victoria as an investment and to provide a home for the defendant while she attended university. The plaintiffs thought real property in or near Victoria would have the potential for a better return than their RRSPs.”
The daughter denied being told the Colwood property was her parents’ investment stating “it was my house.”
‘The defendant says her parents’ contribution to the home was their gift to her. She bases that assertion not on any statement by them that it was a gift, but rather on their history of gifting to her and her brother,” reads the judgment.
The parents paid for renovations in the basement suit of the residence, along with appliances for the suite and if they could not otherwise cover expense relating to the Colwood property the parents would use funds from their RRSP to do so. A third party rented the basement suite and the daughter lived upstairs. If she ran short of fund, the parents would loan her money to help meet the mortgage payments.
The mother in this case was off work for 26 months in order to be treated for metastatic breast cancer that required surgery and extensive chemotherapy, leading her to have to apply for disability coverage. In addition to the cancer treatment, the father suffered a rotator cuff injury and was not able to work full-time for a period of time.
“The plaintiffs relied on RRSP withdrawals to help cover their living expenses and to assist the defendant with mortgage payments on the Colwood Property.”
The break down began in May of 2016 when the parents told their daughter they wanted to sell the property. According to the judgment, “They had a large tax bill to pay because of their RRSP withdrawals. As well, they wished to pay down their own mortgage. T.L.G. said that when the defendant told her ‘no’ and that ‘it was her house,’ not theirs, she was shocked, did not understand, and thought something was wrong.”
In September of 2016, the daughter began employment with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Nanaimo. She would commute to Victoria until December, when she moved to Nanaimo. She then rented out to the main floor of the Colwood property.
“All tenancy agreements for the Colwood Property show the defendant as the landlord. The total rental income received is approximately $3,200 per month. The defendant agreed she was receiving positive cash flow after the mortgage and expenses.”
The father testified that he had planned to retire at 65 but financially couldn’t do so. The mother testified they were unable to retire because they had “depleted their RRSPs and put all their retirement money into the Colwood Property.”
All property assessment notices were addressed to the daughter, and all homeowner’s insurance policy certificates and invoices have been issued in the name of the her as well. The annual mortgage statements are addressed to all three parties.
The daughter argues that at the time of purchase her parents had intended to give her the house but then changed their mind.
According to the judgment “she submits the plaintiffs lack credibility, and that the lack of disclosure of their financial circumstances in this proceeding should result in an inference against their submission that the funds were advanced as an investment for their retirement. As a result, she argues she has rebutted the presumption of resulting trust and submits that the Colwood Property should vest in her name alone. In the alternative, if the presumption of resulting trust is not rebutted, she advances her own claim for unjust enrichment based on her financial contributions to the running of the house and her ‘sweat equity’.”
The judge recognized the parent’s support of their daughter but stated there was a “substantial difference between the educational support and gifts the plaintiffs have given their children and the amount of $110,000 they advanced for the Colwood Property purchase.”
Punnett ordered the home be sold and listed for sale by the parents, along with ordering the daughter nor her agents to interfere in the sale.
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