I live in Ontario, Canada. Due to conflict with my parents, they are claiming that by law they can force me to give back the condo to them (or repay them the amount of the purchase) since they paid for it. Is this true?

The condo was paid in full and it is under my name only. I did not sign anything in relation to the condo with my parents; they basically sent me a cheque and asked me to deal with a real estate agent who is a friend of theirs.

The original intent was giving me the condo as a gift, but there isn't any written agreement.

I have also been paying the property taxes and condo fees.

  • 1
    It sounds to me like they never gave you that condo; they gave you some cash. You then used the cash to buy a condo. How they could lay any claim to the cash or to the condo is beyond me, unless there was some contract providing that you were to repay them in certain circumstances. Contracts need not be written, however. Your best course of action is probably to wait for a demand from their lawyer to turn over the property to them. I doubt any such demand will be forthcoming. If they demand it themselves, just say no.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 2:15
  • 2
    Don't know the Canadian law, but in German law they could ask for their present to be returned if you show "great ungratefulness". For example if you committed some serious crime against your parents. It would be very rare that this happens.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 23:02

4 Answers 4


If it looks like a gift and sounds like a gift and there is no evidence that it should not be considered a gift, well, what else could it be?

Given the value of a house and depending on jurisdiction, there may be a gift tax involved. This is normally an obligation placed on the giver, not the receiver. It is unlikely to be a concern to you but a separate check would be wise for your own sake.

If all ownership documents are clear that you and you alone own (and pay regular costs of, and maintain) the house, it is extremely unlikely that any private individual can take it away from you, regardless of their relationship to you.

There doesn't appear to be any legal basis for their claims; they are hoping you will bow to social and emotional pressure. Your best course of action is to call their bluff. Request a written statement (ideally through their lawyer) that identifies the reason for their claims of ownership or otherwise why the property should be transferred to them (ideally checked by your lawyer) and proceed from your lawyer's advice.


I presume you were given cash with the intent that you buy a condo, which you did. There is no gift tax on cash, and you were given cash. There are theoretically ways in which an apparent gift isn't one (the giver is incompetent – perhaps they are not legally allowed to give the money away, or did not intend to transfer all rights, or did not transfer ownership...). See this question on gift-backsies.


They probably couldn't force you to return it, but if the gift was made at a time when they were insolvent, their creditors, if their creditors acted swiftly enough, could probably undo the gift as a "fraudulent transfer" from which they could collect your parents' debts.


I don't know about Canadian law, but in the United States the person who has the title to property has full possession and use of it.

Even if there was a legal agreement to compel a change in title, your parents would still need to sue you to get the title changed. If there is no legal agreement, then they have no grounds to sue.

Whether it was a "gift" or not is completely irrelevant. If you have title, you have title. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, bud.

  • 1
    This is not U.S. law (indeed, I have had cases that involve exceptions to it). Someone who is in title can be a nominee for a true owner or hold in trust or a constructive trust. Fraudulent transfers are also an exception. None of these exceptions appear to apply in this case, but the exceptions absolutely exist and title doesn't always prevail.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 7:39

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