Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

A dispute in which a son issued an eviction notice to his mother has ended with a judge ordering that they sell the Abbotsford home they shared.

The judgment, issued Feb. 12 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, involved a house that was purchased in June 2008 on Signal Court in Abbotsford.

According to court documents, Anne Iberg, 75, paid $107,000 towards the purchase of the house to live in with her son, Russell Claridge, 45.

She also paid for landscaping, as well as furniture and appliances in the home’s two suites.

Claridge did not contribute towards the purchase, but paid equally towards the mortgage payment and expenses, the documents state.

Claridge wanted to swap suites with his mom because he had a baby on the way and wanted to live in the larger upstairs area. When Iberg did not follow through, he served her with a two-month notice to end tenancy on Feb. 26, 2018.

The documents state that Iberg missed her share of the March 1 mortgage payment, and Claridge then served her with a 10-day eviction notice for unpaid rent.

Iberg then discovered that, when buying the home in 2008, she had signed a purchase contract that resulted in the house being registered in her son’s name alone.

“She says she also learned to her surprise that around the same time, in June 2008, she had apparently signed a residential tenancy agreement as tenant, with her son as landlord,” the judge’s ruling reads.

Iberg took her son to court, alleging that he had been “unjustly enriched,” while Claridge argued that the money his mom initially paid towards the home was a gift to him.

Claridge stated in court that he believed the purchase was a gift because he had been wrongly deprived of an ownership interest in a property that his mom had purchased in Mission in 1995, when he was 22.

Iberg put a down payment on the Mission home from the sale of her previous property in Surrey, but had difficulty obtaining a mortgage for the balance. Claridge became her co-signer and was registered on title as co-owner.

He lived with Iberg, her daughter and granddaughter in the home, regularly paying rent until he stopped working in 1998.

Iberg married in 1999, moved to her husband’s farm, and Claridge’s interest in the Mission property was transferred to her husband.

“According to Ms. Iberg, this was because her husband wanted the property to be put on a proper financial footing, paying for itself through rent,” the court documents state.

Claridge was moved off the property in 1999, and the home was sold in 2003. None of the proceeds were shared with Claridge.

The Abbotsford home was purchased after Iberg and her husband had separated. Claridge said his mother came to him in late 2007, saying she felt badly about what had happened with the Mission property and wanted to make it right by providing him with the down payment for a new home.

They decided to live together so that they could each put together towards a mortgage what they were each spending on rent, the documents state.

Iberg testified that during the purchase transactions she had no recollection of signing the documents making Claridge her landlord and the sole registered owner.

But the mortgage broker who arranged the financing testified in court that the paperwork was done this way because Iberg had poor credit at the time.

“The solution was to change the application to be in Mr.Claridge’s name alone, casting Mrs. Iberg as a tenant in order to enhance Mr. Claridge’s income, and designating her down payment as a gift,” the court documents state.

Justice Christopher Grauer said it would be understandable that Iberg would not have remembered signing these documents as they were done on a peripheral basis so that she and her son would qualify for financing.

Grauer concluded that Iberg’s down payment on the home was not a gift to her son.

“He was to live in the house, and would benefit from the paying down of the mortgage and any increase in equity,” Grauer said.

The judge said that because Iberg and Claridge are now fully estranged, it is no longer possible for them to share a home.

He ruled that the house be sold, with $130,000 going to Iberg to cover the down payment and initial expenses she put into the home.

Grauer stated that the balance of the equity remaining after the first mortgage will then be divided equally, with Claridge responsible for the second mortgage – which he had previously obtained to consolidate his debts – from his share of the proceeds.

The order for sale was stayed for 30 days to give Claridge an opportunity to obtain financing to possibly purchase Iberg’s share in the home.

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