Undivided MANITOBA property owner's rights. Are my

My_question_is: Canadian-specific
Subject:        Undiviided property owner's rights. Are my hands tied?
Expert:         taxman at centa.com
Date:           Wednesday October 12, 2005
Time:           08:13 PM -0700
I have been receiving your emails daily for about 2 years now and am always
impressed as to the extensive knowledge your firm has into law. I had once
asked a question that was kindly answered in less than a day. Once again I
am seeking your help on a law point that I am having a difficult time
finding information on locally. I would greatly appreciate any information
you can provide me with.
I have a 50% undivided interest in a piece of commercial property left to my
sister and I through inheritance. The property consists of approx. 6 acres ,
Approx 3 acres is pie-shaped waterfront with the other 3 acres having a
commercial building that was once housed a Rest. and Bar with living
quarters. All of the property is zoned commercial and sits along the highway
on a lake.
My question is this. I have been left holding the bag so to speak. My sister
does not live here by her choice but I do use a portion to live in. Somoone
must remain on the property becuse of vandelism and to keep the building
free from frezzing up resulting in pipes bursting etc. The entire building
is heated by wood-furnance. It takes about 10 cords a winter to heat. The
roof now leaks badly and though I have been replacing the
water-pump...mowing all the grass...and simple repairs the buliding needs
serious renovations. My sister will not agreee to offer to lease small
summer lots even though she has payed no maintinance costs or taxes and even
feels she should recieve rent from me. It costs me morwe to live here than
if I rented an apartment in town. I jave an offerr to lease lots that will
pay for the up-keep and taxes which I cannot afford. Most of the taxes are
on the waterfront land which I do not use nor do I even own a boat. There
are driveways to maitain and snow to shovel etc.
Here is my questions - If I am living here and my sister refuses to help
repair the building to stop finnancial loss or by refusal to accept rent for
lot lease which cuases more finaancial loss and then feels I should pay all
the costs is she in her leagl righst? Becuase I am living here and have had
to pay the costs and taxes becuase she hasn't can I recoop by leasing out
lots against her wishes or has she tied my hands and put me in a position of
financial ruin with no way for me to leaglly change it? What happens if I go
ahead and lease lots to pay delinquect taxes and repiars ? Can she stop me?
I really need some advice here as I am suspicious she isdoing this to burden
me into selling to her for far less then worth becuse of the psotion she has
put me in. Thnaks again for your help.
david ingram replies:
You are in a bind that will likely only be settled with the expensive
services of a lawyer.
I am not the person to get your answer from although I tend to be very
effective if you and your sister were to talk to me together with the
agreement to accept my recommendation.
However, since I am in BC and you are in Manitoba, there is not much
likelihood of that.
Interestingly, my first real estate licence was with Fort Garry Realty on
Pembina Highway back in 1964 and I have likely driven past the property in
question because i worked for Health of Animals in Manitoba and literally
covered every farm with cattle in 1958, 59, 80 and 61 when I was vaccinating
calves for Bangs Disease.
Your problem is not unusual and happens on a regular basis when parents
leave property equally to children and one child really wants possession or
has an almost spiritual attachment to a property and the other does not.
I am not a lawyer.  However, I do not know of anything that your sister can
do to stop your renting or leasing lots if you are in possession of the lots
and paying the bills.
If I were you, I would start by billing my sister for your maintenance
services and the taxes you have paid.  A nice official bill prepared with
the help of a lawyer and sent form the lawyer's office.
When she hits the roof, you could offer to lease some lots to help pay it.
If you are in control of the property, it is your responsibility to maintain
the building, etc.,
If you love the property, you should consider a shotgun approach.  This
happens when you pick a price and offer to sell your half to her for that
amount and if she does not take it, you can buy her out for that price. Part
of the offer would allude to that fact.
It is obvious that you have to settle the problem sooner rather than later.
You could try for a partition and get it divided into two half ownerships as
tenants in common.  This would allow you to mortgage your half to get funds
but is still not a good setup.
If she will not agree to sell to you or buy you out, then you have to force
the sale.  You can start this by not paying the taxes and having it put up
for a tax sale.  When your sister sees it being taken away for peanuts, she
will have to do something.  Indeed, you might even buy it out yourself as an
individual from the tax sale taking it away form the two of you.
I am putting this out to the list to see if anyone else comes up with a
solution.  There is at least one University of Manitoba Law School Graduate
who receives this and comments occasionally and we will see what happens.
Good luck and let me know what happens.  (PS - what lake - Falcon, Manitoba,
Gull, Pigeon, Winnipeg?
David Ingram's US/Canada Services
US / Canada / Mexico tax, Immigration and working Visa Specialists
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
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Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without detailed information or
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