Montreal

Longueuil couple in disbelief after car seized by bailiff during neighbour's eviction

Suzie Bilodeau had been parking her car in her neighbour's driveway for about a year when, one day in January, she came home to find a dumpster in its place.

When Suzie Bilodeau came home from work in January, her car was nowhere to be found

Suzie Bilodeau and Jean-Benoit Sarrasin's car. (Radio-Canada)

Suzie Bilodeau had been parking her car in her neighbour's driveway for about a year when, one day in January, she came home to find a dumpster in its place.

The Longueuil resident soon found out that her neighbour was in default of payment and had been evicted. 

The residence was seized by a bailiff — and along with it, Bilodeau and her partner Jean-Benoit Sarrasin's Honda.

Bilodeau said she was in disbelief.

After reaching the bailiff by phone, Bilodeau was told that her car had not only been seized, but that it was sold during the eviction.

"I said, 'no way. I paid my plates yesterday.' That's when we started to think there was something wrong," Bilodeau said.

'It's the bailiff's decision'

According to Sylvain Gravel, president of the Chamber of Judicial Officers of Quebec, the bailiff who sold the vehicle had every right to do so.

Quebec's Code of Civil Procedure states that a bailiff cannot be held liable for the removal of property during an eviction, and that the bailiff has access to all rooms, buildings and things on the premises.

"The bailiff can sell the property, give it to charity organizations or dispose of them," Gravel said. "It's the bailiff's decision."

After reaching the bailiff by phone, Bilodeau was told that her car had not only been seized, but that it was sold during the eviction. (Radio-Canada)

He added that if the goods are sold, it's for the benefit of the creditor.

"It's really frustrating. They need to check, it seems to me, who owns things," Bilodeau said.

Inaccessible data

The problem, according to Gravel, is that bailiffs aren't able to identify the owner of the vehicle before they sell it.

Quebec's automobile insurance board doesn't have the right to disclose this information to bailiffs, according to provincial laws on access to personal information.

"It's too bad we can't access these databases," Gravel said. "It would have been very easy to check."

The Chamber of Judicial Officers of Quebec has been asking for more than 30 years that the law be changed, to no avail, Gravel said.

"The fact that we are not able to get this information creates this inconsistency," Gravel said. "The inconsistency is to allow bailiffs to sell a vehicle without first identifying the owner of the car.

According to Sylvain Gravel, president of the Chamber of Judicial Officers of Quebec, the bailiff who sold the vehicle had every right to do so. (Radio-Canada)

Bilodeau was lucky — she said she found the person who bought her car, who agreed to give it back provided they pay $500 for towing costs and making a new key.

Legally, though, the buyer could have kept the car without issue since the sale was made by a bailiff.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Nancy Desjardins

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