Avoiding scams, need partner’s permission to sell?


Dear David,

This isn’t directly related to real estate, but you talk a lot about senior’s issues and I wonder if you can help. My parents still live in our family home. I worry about them falling victim to scams. What advice can I pass along? – EYES WIDE OPEN

DEAR EYES: If your parents have a land line, cell phone or email account, they’re likely receiving scam messages. Lately, I’ve received some that threaten police action from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If your parents receive similar communications, it’s important they resist the urge to engage and instead look for signs of criminal activity.

Whether in the form of computer pop-ups, phone messages, texts or emails with weird addresses, scams are often laced with aggressive language and tend to include requests for personal information. Scammers may even hijack call display numbers in an effort to appear legitimate.

If the message is a request for payment, keep in mind that government agencies and large-scale providers tend to communicate by mail. They generally don’t accept Interac e-transfers, cryptocurrency, gift cards or pre-paid credit cards. It’s also unlikely that a payment would require a passport, health card or driver’s license number.

It’s important to protect personal details, such as credit card and social insurance numbers. If you feel a message may be legitimate, double-check your records and call the organization on a known number, or visit a brick-and-mortar location to speak with an employee.

PRO TIP: There are ways to protect your loved ones. With your parents’ permission, caps can be placed on daily bank account withdrawals and credit card limits, to reduce the potential damage should they fall victim to a scam.

Dear David,

My same-sex partner moved into my house a year ago. Do I need their permission to sell it? – READY TO MOVE

DEAR READY: I feel like the decision to move is something you should run by your partner for the sake of your relationship, so I’ll assume you’re asking from a technical standpoint.

Under Ontario family law, same-sex couples are treated the same as opposite-sex couples. In real estate, a partner’s rights are largely determined by whether the couple is legally married or common law. Based on what you’ve told me, I’ll assume you are unmarried, that your partner is not listed on title and that there are no children involved. If this is the case, I don’t believe the house would be considered a matrimonial home, so spousal consent would not be required to list or sell it.

PRO TIP: When you’re in a serious relationship and sitting on a large asset like a house, a quick consultation with your lawyer is always recommended. It’s important for a homeowner to understand the effect of their relationship under the law, in order to protect their estate. #AskDavid #Advice