Katherine Coombs has not fully mourned her husband’s death, as she learned the day after his death that she might be kicked out of the only house she had ever owned.
“It was my dream house,” she told CBC News. “We worked really hard for this place. My grandchildren were raised here, my great-grandchildren grew up here… this is my life.”
The 65-year-old is suing to gain ownership of the Kitchener, Ont. home of a Toronto company that bought it from her and her husband, Marc Combs, less than two months before her death in March. In the summer of 2020, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which had spread to his liver, bones and brain.
The lawsuit alleges that Municipal City Housing Corp., Exit It Contract Consulting and two directors of the company hunted down the couple and tricked them into selling their home under market value, saying they could afford to live on the property. will be able free.
The statement of claim also argues that the defendants took advantage of Mark’s “low potential” in the late stages of his illness and Catherine’s lack of involvement in the couple’s finances.
Municipal City Housing and Exit Contract Consulting and the company’s directors declined to comment for this story, and have yet to file defense statements in the case. The trial has not been tried in court.
“I just want my house back,” Katherine said. “And to stop these people because there are other people out there, they’ll sting just like I did.”
cold call about lien
She says the situation began in January when she received a cold call from Exit It Contract Consulting, claiming the company could help get rid of the couple’s outstanding debt from HVAC equipment rental contracts. Katherine says she sent the caller to her husband, who agreed to send someone to her home to talk to the company about her services.
Coombes had previously entered into a number of door-to-door rental contracts for appliances including furnaces, air conditioners and water softeners – the kind of contracts that the Ontario government later banned due to aggressive sales tactics and scandals. They were usually used to sell.
For each of their rental contracts, a notice of security interest was registered on the title to the Coombs home for the value of the contract, which ranged from $4,000 to approximately $8,000.
Jeffrey Dreutz, a representative at Exit It Contract Consulting, came over those liens and related contracts at the end of January to discuss with Mark. According to the statement of claim, Dreutz provided a copy of a contract for the company’s services and soon returned home with another man named Elliot Kasem.
On January 21, Mark signed a contract with Exit It Contract Consulting with a deferred fee of $13,500 for his services, helping the couple reduce or eliminate the amount owed through their HVAC contracts. The same day he also signed a buy and sell agreement for his house with Municipal City Housing.
,[Mark] He said he wanted me to be debt free — didn’t want me to worry about anything,” Katherine said. “He wasn’t doing well… at the time. [the cancer] was on his mind.”
In the sale agreement, Combs agreed to sell his semi-detached home for $191,000. A few months later, real estate records show that a similar semi-detached home on the same street in Kitchener was listed for $419,000 and sold for $535,000.
According to the company’s incorporation records, both Drutz and Kasem are listed as directors of Municipal City Housing.
CBC News requested interviews with Drutz, Kasem and the director of Exit It Contract Consulting, but all three declined to comment because the matter is in court.
look | Coombes reflects on what his home means to him:
Ownership of the house was transferred to Municipal City Housing on 24 February and Mark died less than a month later on 17 March. The next day, the couple’s longtime friend D’Hughes came to comfort Katherine and was told that the couple had sold the house. ,
“Immediately I was like, ‘What? Mark sold the house? What do you mean? Why would he do that?'” Hughes told CBC News.
Hughes works in real estate and says he asked to look at the sale agreement quickly.
“There were no conditions stating that he had a life lease,” she said. “So I said, ‘Cathy, there’s a problem here.'”
Hughes has since helped Katherine connect with an attorney who filed suit in Ontario Superior Court in September over a court order attempting to transfer ownership of the home to her name.
“I know what this home means to him, and what it means to Mark,” Hughes said.
“We’re going to keep his house, we’re going to find a way. It’s wrong and it has to stop, and so I’m going to go to bat for the memory of him and Mark.”
Property records show that Municipal City Housing owns four other homes in southern Ontario that had HVAC equipment liens under the previous owners.
In at least two of those cases, the former owners and their families told CBC News that Exit It Contract Consulting Cold asked the owners to get rid of those liens and related contracts from the company’s services before the company A representative of the U.K. connected him to the municipal city. housing, which then bought their home.
Neither of those previous owners is disputing the sale in court like Coombs.
Industry depends on property liens, say lawyer
Over the years Denise Crawford says she’s seen clients pay a $10,000 to $20,000 lien for HVAC rental contracts in order to sell or refinance their home.
The Stratford, Ont., attorney, who is not involved in the Coombs case, argues that those liens are primarily to blame for the continued harassment of vulnerable homeowners.
Crawford said, “This whole ecosystem wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the fact that the law currently allows these liens to be registered on title in people’s homes without the homeowner’s permission and without notifying the homeowner.” allows,” Crawford said.
“If it weren’t possible to register those liens … that whole industry would disappear overnight.”
Crawford says it’s not clear what legitimate business interest the liens are protecting.
“NS [government] The ban on door-to-door sales ultimately didn’t take effect,” Crawford told CBC News. “They should have made it illegal to register these liens against people’s homes.”
Catherine’s only valuable asset was her home, so she says she doesn’t know what she would do if she was forced to move.
“I’m looking forward to getting my house back.”