Canada: Vancouver Homeowner Surprised to Discover Unpaid Mortgage from 1963

A woman who has lived in her parents’ east Vancouver home since she was a toddler was surprised to hear that it still has an outstanding mortgage 60 years later.

 

“It’s still unbelievable in my mind that this is actually happening,” said Susan Stefanon, a former Telus employee who is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to cancel the $1,900 mortgage or allow her to pay the $122,000 principal plus interest that it is now worth.

 

Marcello Stefanon, a terrazzo worker, and Maria Stefanon paid $16,000 for the house on East 16th Avenue in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighborhood, with a $11,000 mortgage.

 

Stefanon was three months old when they moved into the neat cottage on Nov. 22, 1963, the day US President John F. Kennedy was slain, something her mother later commented on.

 

But why her parents took out a second mortgage from a couple called John Reginald Oliver, a salesman, and Mary Florence Oliver a few weeks later, “I don’t know.” She is unlikely to do so because her parents, John, and Mary are all deceased.

 

According to a copy of the mortgage filed with the petition, the Olivers are listed as joint tenants with the Stefanons. Stefanon stated that she had never heard her parents mention the Olivers.

 

She discovered the mortgage shortly before Christmas when she attempted to obtain a home equity line of credit and her financial adviser discovered the debt on title.

 

According to the court filing, Stefanon is seeking the court to declare that there is no mortgage on her property, or to discharge it, and to prohibit any claims by the Olivers or their heirs because so much time has passed.

 

She also would be willing to pay the Olivers or their heirs the $122,049.48 it’s worth in 2023 dollars so it is “hereby fully satisfied, related and discharged,” the petition said.

 

The property was valued last year at $1.6 million by B.C. Assessment.

 

Stefanon stated in her petition that her parents paid off the house’s 1963 mortgage in 1971, and it doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t have paid the Olivers the $20 a month on the smaller mortgage.

 

“The Stefanons were diligent with such matters,” Stefanon’s petition says.

 

The petition cites the Limitation Act of British Columbia as the legal basis for its claim that a mortgagee cannot commence legal action to recover mortgage debt after six years.

 

Stefanon became a joint owner of the land with her father after her mother died in 1999. When he died in 2015, she became the sole owner of the property. She claimed that the mortgage was never mentioned during either of the transfers.

 

Stefanon hired a skip tracer to look for the Olivers, and while he discovered John died in 2001, he was unable to locate a death certificate or obituary for Mary, who the petition estimates would be 111 today if she were still alive. They had a son who resides in Surrey, but no probate grant for either of his parents’ estates was located, nor was a power of attorney for mortgage payments listed.

 

Stefanon stated in her declaration that she would like to sell the property one day, “but am unable to do so because I am unable to provide clear title to a willing buyer” unless the mortgage was paid off.

 

She said she she has been telling friends about the mortgage because “how many others are there out there?”

 

As she waits for the court to hear her petition, she said she’s “hoping for a positive outcome.”

 

 

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