Multi Generational Homes No Written Agreement Trouble Unjust Enrichment Fails

Date: 02 Nov, 2023| Author: Fred Streiman

In the summer of 2023, Justice Mandhane of the Ontario Superior Court decided a case that related to a family argument between a widowed mother and one of her adult sons.

As is quite common, the Sidhu family occupied a home in Brampton in which not only the grandmother, the registered sole owner of the home lived, but as well her children, a daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

Much of the case revolved around the specific facts. The son who had apparently been the families’ “manager” for almost 20 years argued that by virtue of the significant funds he and his wife had injected into the home over that time span, they were entitled to a 50% interest in the house.

The son’s argument failed due to a lack of evidence.

The son attempted to argue that his mother had been unjustly enriched as a result of his efforts and as such was entitled to a 50% interest in the home. The argument which is based upon long standing area of law encapsulated in two Supreme Court of Canada decisions Moore v. Sweet, a 2018 decision, and the famous Kerr v. Baranowa 2011 decision. The test is whether or not one party was enriched, another party suffered a corresponding deprivation and if that economic transfer had some type of a legal reason for it. In essence, we have the question as to whether or not one side became richer while the other became poorer for no good reason. Factually, the son failed to prove that.  All of the money he and his wife had pumped into the house was treated as equal to rent.

The central theme and conclusion one must come to from the case is that if indeed there is to be a home in which significant finances are involved, and the parties have nothing in writing to prove their respective interests in the event of a disagreement, there is going to be trouble. One can imagine the time, effort and family friction that was caused when mother and son faced off against each other in court.