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Provincial Mediation Board

The Provincial Mediation Board strives to help debtors and creditors reach an amicable arrangement for payment of debt without resorting to legal proceedings.
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1. Information About Mortgage Foreclosure Notices

Financial Institutions that intend to foreclose on a mortgage must give notice to the Provincial Mediation Board (PMB). The PMB has 30 days to inform the property owner about the foreclosure process and to endeavour to assist the owner and the financial institution to find a mutually satisfactory arrangement for payment of the arrears. If no arrangement is made, the financial institution may take you to court to foreclose. The PMB tries to help people avoid going to court. The PMB encourages parties to find a mutually acceptable arrangement for the payment of arrears and not sue or be sued.

Some basic terms and ideas:

  • A "mortgage" is a debt secured by registration against a title to land. 
  • "Foreclosure" is an action in court to take the land because the mortgage is not being paid.

Lenders can only foreclose on land in Saskatchewan by an action in the Court of Queen's Bench.

A lender may seek to either take the title to the land and become the owner, or be allowed to sell the land apply the sale proceeds to the debt.

When a borrower misses payments on a debt, the lender may enforce payment by legal means of seizing the security. When the security is a mortgage on land, lenders must first give notice to the PMB that they intend to foreclose. The lender must then wait for 30 days before they can start the foreclosure process in court. These 30 days provide an opportunity for the PMB to talk to borrowers and help them consider options:

  • payment of the arrears;
  • sale of the property;
  • quit claim the property and turn it over to the lender; or
  • such other action as is within the financial means of the borrower.

Borrowers may also wish to consider: 

  • consulting a lawyer; or
  • defending the action.

Mortgage contracts typically provide that all expenses of the lender to enforce the mortgage may be added to the mortgage debt and collected from the borrower. Lawyers bill lenders for their work to sue people and foreclose on their land. The lender pays the legal fees and adds those fees to the amount owing on the mortgage. Legal fees add to the arrears and compound the problem of catching up the mortgage payments. Early payment of mortgage arrears may avoid liability for substantial legal fees.

In Resmor Trust Company v. MacDonald, 2010 SKQB 198, the Court of Queen’s Bench has held that financial institutions are generally not entitled to collect their initial legal fees from mortgagors, stating at paragraph 26: “The general rule is that pre-leave costs are not granted unless there is something in the evidence – i.e. the chronic offender – that would cause the Court to arrive at the conclusion that to refuse to award pre-leave costs would be inequitable.”

There is substantial protection for people who wish to pay the arrears. Foreclosure actions take time. It is unlikely that a foreclosure action can be completed in less than six months from the time that the lender sends the file to a lawyer for collection, and may take much longer if the borrower makes payments and is trying to protect the property. Legal fees will be added to the arrears during the process. Those legal fees will add to the problem of catching up the arrears. Early payment of arrears reduces legal costs.

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2. Information About the PMB's Role in Municipal Property Tax Enforcement

Municipalities may take title to land if property taxes are not paid. Taxpayers should deal directly with municipalities to pay arrears of taxes and avoid the loss of title to their land. The Provincial Mediation Board (PMB) has a limited role in municipal tax enforcement. Below you will find information about the limited role of the PMB. 

The PMB does not have a role: 

  • in disputes about assessment; 
  • in determining the amount of taxes owing; or
  • before the municipality asks for the PMB's consent.

Taxpayers must resolve any issue of property assessment or the amount of taxes owing directly with the municipality.

A municipality may take the title to land without consent from the PMB if:

  • the assessed value is less than $17,500;
  • the land is unoccupied; and
  • no payment has been made on account of taxes for two years.

If consent from the PMB is required, the role of the PMB is to provide the taxpayer with one last opportunity to pay the taxes. The PMB will consent to the municipality taking title if taxes remain unpaid, or if the taxpayer defaults on payment arrangements. 

The PMB recognizes that municipalities are entitled to collect taxes and that municipalities need the money to provide municipal services. The PMB will withhold its consent only so long as the taxpayer has made a reasonable arrangement for the payment of taxes within a reasonable time and honours that arrangement.

The PMB will issue consent if the taxpayer fails to respond to letters or any other communications from the PMB. When the taxpayer has agreed to an arrangement for payment of taxes, the PMB will consent if the taxpayer fails to comply with the arrangement without providing an explanation satisfactory to the PMB.

Taxpayers need to keep in touch with the municipality about the payment of taxes and about any problems with payments. Taxpayers need to keep the PMB informed of any significant change in circumstances. Problems can be avoided by good communication. 

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3. Powers of the PMB in Relation to the Eviction of Tenants (non-residential)

The Provincial Mediation Board (PMB) has the power to delay proceedings to evict some tenants. This section will provide you with information about the PMB's power. 

The Landlord and Tenant Act governs leases generally, whether agricultural, commercial or otherwise. The Act does not apply to residential leases governed by The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

The Agricultural Leaseholds Act provides some additional rights for tenants in agricultural leases to remove crops after the end of the term if harvest is delayed by weather or other reason. Under sections 5 and 6 of that Act, the PMB has the power to hear disputes and make orders permitting re-entry for completion of harvesting.

Decisions of the PMB are published by CanLII.

The Court of Queen's Bench has general jurisdiction under The Landlord and Tenant Act to make orders declaring leases to be terminated, whether by expiration or by reason of breach, and to grant to the landlord an order for possession. 

Under section 14 of The Provincial Mediation Board Act, the PMB has the power to delay applications for possession and to delay enforcement of orders for possession. The powers of the PMB in subsection (1) are:

Power to prohibit proceedings by landlord

14(1) The Board may at any time and from time to time, of its own motion or upon application by any person, by order, subject to such terms and conditions as the board deems fit: 

(a)  prohibit any or all proceedings under The Landlord and Tenant Act during a period of time stated in the order; 

(b)  prohibit any action by a landlord for the recovery of possession of land from a tenant during a period of time stated in the order; 

(c)   prohibit the execution by a sheriff of any writ of possession during a period of time stated in the order; 

where in its opinion serious hardship to the tenant or his family would otherwise ensue. 

The PMB has interpreted its role as one of providing time for an orderly end to a tenancy.  The Court of Queen's Bench has jurisdiction to deal with the merits of the matter and determine that a lease has expired or that a tenant has breached a lease. The Court will determine if the landlord is entitled to a writ of possession.  Nevertheless, if the tenant will suffer serious hardship as a result of the immediate end of a lease, the Board has jurisdiction to provide "a period of time" to the tenant if that will avoid serious hardship to the tenant or at least mitigate the serious hardship.  The Board does not have jurisdiction to deal with the merits of an application for possession.
 
There are no prescribed forms for applications under section 14. An application can be made by correspondence, preferably delivered to the Board by email to PMB@gov.sk.ca.  Tenants who apply to the PMB for relief are expected to assist the PMB by addressing the following issues:

  1. Will "serious hardship to the tenant" ensue if the lease is terminated?
  2. Can the serious hardship be avoided by delaying the eviction?
  3. What period of time is necessary to avoid serious hardship to the tenant?

If the parties dispute the facts, evidence will be required. Parties are encouraged to:

  • communicate openly;
  • resolve their disputes directly; and
  • contact the board to discuss procedure should an application be necessary.

While the Board is contacted a few times annually about section 14 issues, in most cases the parties find a solution without the need for the Board to conduct a hearing or make an order.

Applications are commonly heard after the court has made its decision on the landlord’s right to possession.  If the landlord is not entitled to possession, there is nothing for the Board to delay.  If the Court finds that the landlord is entitled to possession, the Board will ask that the court to withhold enforcement of a writ of possession pending a decision of the Board.  When the tenant acknowledges the landlord’s right of possession, it is appropriate for the Board to hear the application before the Court hears the landlord’s application for a possession order.

For expediency, members of the Board will take calls and provide basic information about the process and powers of the Board.  Obviously it is not desirable for an adjudicator to discuss a matter with one party in the absence of the other.  If you communicate with the Board, please send a copy of the message to the other party, so that both parties are aware of all information provided to the Board and have an opportunity to respond.  Should a conference call with the Board be desirable, please make the request by email and suggest a convenient time.  Conference calls have often helped the parties through the process and enabled them to find their own solution.

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