I have a woman client, who bought a house in 2016, with her common law spouse. Both names were placed on title. My client leaves their common law spouse in 2018, and has been renting since that time.
The common law spouse has stayed in the house undertaking renovations etc. Then they started seeing someone else, and now they are now common law with that person.
What recourse does my client have?
First question: how did they hold title?
The Joint Tenancy if that was how title was registered, needs to be severed as soon as possible. That can be done by registered mail.
If it’s tenants-in-common, that’s fine, her interest would be whatever was registered: 60/40, 90/10 etc. The default position is 50/50, if nothing was said.
Was there a cohabitation agreement? Did that spell out the financial and ownership arrangements in detail? Then, have her head over to the lawyer with these documents in hand, so that some calculations can be made.
It would generally appear that she would be entitled to:
1) one half the current equity in the house, plus
2) the equivalent of a occupancy fee from him, in respect to half the property (like rent) from the time she left in 2018 until the matter is resolved, and less
3) the value of any capital improvements to the extent they contributed to the resale value of the house (and that may not be the case).
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker