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Law.Hut, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
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Experience:  with over 15 years experience.
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My sisters and I have recently inherited our family cottage

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My sisters and I have recently inherited our family cottage and are tenants in common each of us owning one third.
My husband and I spent $30,000 to build a bunkie on the property in 2010 as a gift for our children. It is furnished with all of their belongings.
As soon as my sisters and I inherited the property, my sisters claimed they had rights to the bunkie and have gone in and changed the locks. I resisted this action but said that if they were going to use it then I wanted them to pay for their portion of the expenses to build it. This suggestion was ignored.
Do I have a right to keep it for our children? And if not can I make a claim for unjust enrichment to have my sisters pay for a portion of the cost?

Can you explain what the "bunkie" is? Is it fixed to the land or building, or is it easily moveable?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It is 14x20 feet, sits on blocks, has electricity but no plumbing.
If the structure is affixed To the land then it would be part of the value of that land. You would be able to sue based on unjust enrichment in that case to argue that you have improved the value of the real estate and that the other titleholders would be unfairly enriched if you are not compensated.

If the structure is not affixed to the land, then you would be free to simply move it off of the land at any time, as you are the person who constructed home that particular property.

A court will look at the various factors to try and determine whether a particular item is affixed to land, such as whether it has a set foundation, plumbing or electrical wiring that is connected to the land. If there is electrical wiring that is hardwired to the structure that is an indication that it is affixed to the land.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Recently I started researching "unjust enrichment" as a possible argument in this situation, as well as legal reasonings.


Would these be valid arguments in terms of expecting my sisters to pay for a portion of the expenses involved in building the bunkie or in keeping them from using it?

You likely could not keep them from using it. If it is affixed to the land then all land owners have equal rights to the land. But it is possible for a joint land title holder to seek to sever the joint tenancy. When that occurs, the court will order either that the property be sold or that one or more joint title holders that want to keep the land but out the other. The equity in the property is divided based on the relative contributions of each party to that equity. So the contributions you made in building the bunkie would be payable to you, based in the increase in market value that the bunkie brings to the overall property.