Real estate law in Canada is largely governed and administered by provincial governments rather than the state government. However, there are overarching principles that apply to all land in Canada regardless of the province in which it is located.
Ownership of land
There are several types of tenure and land title available to land owners in Canada. Most land in Canada is held in fee simple, which means the proprietor holds the land on a freehold basis.
Owners of condominiums and other types of flats own strata title. This means their title to the property includes a share in the common areas of the condominium. This may include car parks and other facilities such as swimming pools.
Sale and purchase transactions
A valid agreement to sell and purchase property must be in writing. Options to purchase may be granted by a vendor and accepted by a purchaser in exchange for a contribution towards the purchase price. After acceptance, such an option to purchase becomes a valid and binding contract for sale and purchase.
Upon completion, title to the property is transferred from the vendor to the purchaser via the Land Title Office.
The date of possession and adjustment is customarily one day after the date of completion, though they can be fixed on any day specified in the agreement. On the date of possession, physical possession of the property is given to the purchaser who can then collect the keys to the property. On the date of adjustment, liability for taxes, insurance, maintenance fees, and other fees passes to the purchaser.
Registration of title
Each province in Canada is equipped with its own land titles registry and its own laws governing the registration of titles. The procedure governing registration of title and the types of title documents issued to land owners may differ from province to province.
Various encumbrances can be placed on a property. Where a mortgage is taken out and a property is offered up as security, the mortgage will be registered as an encumbrance on the title to that property.
An easement may exist on a property when another person gains certain rights, such as the right of passage, over the property.
A caveat is lodged on the title to the property and functions as a notification that a party has an interest in the property. For instance, a prospective purchaser who has accepted an option to purchase will lodge a caveat on the property to indicate his interest in the property even before completion of the sale and purchase.
A lis pendens may be granted by a court if a claim has been made that involves the property. A lis pendens prevents any changes to be made to the existing title until the resolution of the dispute.
A builder’s lien is an encumbrance placed on a property by a party involved in the building or construction of the property for unpaid moneys. Then lien will only be removed upon payment in full of all moneys owed for work done on the land or building.