2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Saskatchewan tenant farmer claims for improvements to leased property

Arliegh Enge leased his neighbours' property near Margo, Saskatchewan from 2005 to 2008.  In early November, 2008, the landowners named Hendrickson tendered the land for sale.  There was said to be a right of first refusal for Enge, but his offer of $167,225.00 was not accepted.  The land was eventually purchased for $201,000.00.  Just prior to making his offer, Enge filed an interest registration against the property, claiming an interest as lessee to the land pursuant to a verbal lease agreement.  The interest was in respect of unpaid expenses.

An action in the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan arose as a result of work done by Mr. Enge in the fall of 2007 and the fall of 2008.  Mr. Enge claimed that the defendants, through Floyd Hendrickson, agreed to compensate him for the cost of this work, which he said improved the value of the land.  The defendants denied any such agreement, other than for post-harvest spraying in 2008.  The work performed on the land, in the fall of 2007, was: (1) ditching and (2) the burying of stones and the cleaning of a fence line. The work done in the fall of 2008 was: (1) post-harvest spraying; (2) heavy harrowing; (3) cultivating and (4) ditching. The defendants admitted that Floyd Hendrickson agreed to pay the plaintiff for the post-harvest spraying done in 2008, and as a result agreed to owing the plaintiff $6,285.00 for that spraying.  That was, however, where any agreement between the parties ended.

When asked whether he had any discussions with Floyd Hendrickson about this work, Mr. Enge said that he spoke to Mr. Hendrickson off and on, and that Mr. Hendrickson didn’t object to the work being done, but Mr. Hendrickson didn’t want to pay for the work as he - only one of three owners of the land - was caught between a rock and a hard place. Mr. Enge said that Mr. Hendrickson told him to put a caveat against the land, and when it was sold, he would be looked after, in effect suggesting he would be compensated for the work at that point.

Floyd Hendrickson denied that there was any discussion of the plaintiff having a right of first refusal when the oral rental agreement was made in 2005. He said, in the fall of 2007, he noticed that Mr. Enge was taking out some bush on the fence line on the edge of this land. He said he was upset and asked Mr. Enge what he was doing, and made it clear that he had not told Mr. Enge to do this. Mr. Hendrickson claimed he said to Mr. Enge he should “leave it alone”.

In the Court's view, the evidence of Mr. Hendrickson was as believable as that of Mr. Enge. That meant it was as likely as not, as Mr. Hendrickson said, that: (1) he told Mr. Enge, in the fall of 2007 that he had not approved the cleaning of the fence line and burying of stones that Mr. Enge was engaged in on the land, (2) he told Mr. Enge in October of 2008 that the ditching Mr. Enge was about to do was “up to him” and there was no indication from Mr. Enge that he wanted compensation for any of the work, other than the spraying and (3) he at no other time agreed to compensate Mr. Enge for the ditching, heavy harrowing, cultivating or burying of stones and cleaning of the fence line.

In the end, the Court decided that there was not evidence on a balance of probabilities of an expressed or implied contract obligating the defendants to pay Enge for the work he did, other than for the spraying.  Enge was, therefore, awarded $6,285 for the 2008 post-harvest spraying plus $100 in costs.

Read the decision at: A. and M. Enge Farms Ltd. v. Hendrickson.