Property Law Columns
A fair ruling or is it just downright batty? A colony of bats discovered by purchasers inside their home sparked a dispute that ended in a B.C. court with Judge Judith Doulis pronouncing it “an...
One spooky surprise taught these homeowners an important lesson about disclosure. When Danielle Witt and Ben Rockey-Harris were successful with their less-than-asking-price offer on a house in...
Condominium owners who rent out their units without credit and reference checks run the risk of being financially responsible for their tenant’s misbehaviour. Heidi Yee Hui owns a condominium on...
Last September, a client of mine whom I will call Meghan purchased a beautifully renovated home in Midtown Toronto for a price well above asking. Built in the 1920s on a 30-foot lot, the home came...
A Superior Court decision in August provides valuable guidance on how buyers and sellers should act when a property suffers substantial damage before closing. In November, 2019, Sative Yan-Ling Tsui...
When a title insurer pays a referral fee to a lawyer for arranging a policy on a client’s property purchase, who should get the benefit of the fee — the lawyer or the client? For more than 20 years,...
Ontario has finally repealed a law — after a 200-year delay — which even today requires landowners to perform road work for local townships. Two years after the province of Upper Canada was...
Anyone with a scheduled September 30 closing date on their real estate purchase or sale will have to change that date as the result of a new national holiday proclaimed in June. Bill C-5 is an act...
It’s after 5 p.m. on June 30 and the home purchase transaction is complete. The new owner shows up with the keys and deed, only to be utterly shocked that the seller is still in the house — and...
With the rapid increase in the price of condominium units this year, some buyers are turning to co-ops and co-ownerships as an alternative. With the rapid increase in the price of condominium units...
A code of ethics for builders and their staff which comes into force on July 1 has the potential to create a sea change in the marketing of new homes and condominiums. The first in Ontario’s...
Ontario’s courts are asked to step in when condo residents refuse to wear masks in their buildings’ shared areas
Living in a condominium community requires a balancing of the interests of those who live there. But when it comes to residents who refuse to wear masks during a pandemic, the courts have to decide...
In the early 19th century, the primary mode of transportation to much of the interior of what is now Ontario was by boat, along our lakes and rivers. When the colonial government provided free land...
In the current chaotic residential real estate market, buyers are frequently submitting offers well in excess of either the listing price or the realistic market value. But transactions like this...
Superior Court lets home sellers keep the $20,000 deposit after the buyers backed away from the signed deal
Can a buyer terminate a transaction and get their deposit back if the published listing significantly overstates the size of a house? A Superior Court decision this past March addressed this...
An interesting case from the Tax Court of Canada last fall explores the issue of how many times a taxpayer can flip personal residences during a short period of time before the government will tax...
Last month I was asked to review an offer to purchase a $1.2 million waterfront cottage on Lake Simcoe. The experience underscored how important it is, especially in cottage transactions, to...
Disputes over the unauthorized use of condominium common elements continue to appear in Ontario courtrooms. One recent case involved Irving and Nancy Kumer, who owned a luxury condominium townhouse...
Who is responsible when a home is so defective that it is deemed unsafe to occupy? That was the issue facing John Breen after he purchased a luxury cottage for $710,000 in 1999. The winterized...
Can a 90-year-old man adopt a 58-year-old adult as his son in order to allow the younger one to acquire ownership of his Toronto Island home? That was the question facing Justice Markus Koehnen in...
Can a home inspector avoid legal responsibility if is an exclusion of liability clause in the inspection contract? In February, 2009, Michael Smith retained Terry Gordon, a registered home...
The Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered two Oakville, Ont. homeowners to pay $40,000 in court costs and to remove a swimming pool they had built on top of a utility easement.
Bob Aaron firstname.lastname@example.org A discovery of $500,000 in cash and gold by Alberta homebuyers as they renovated their house in 2017 was the subject of my column in November...
A century of Canadian legal precedents dealing with listings describing homes for sale were reversed late last year by an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that is being seen as one of the year’s most significant real estate law rulings.
When the heirs of a GTA deceased homeowner decide it’s time to sell the property, it typically takes the Ontario estates court many months to rubber-stamp probate documents allowing the sale to proceed.
In his first-year law student text book, “Principles of Property Law,” prof. Bruce Ziff begins a chapter on lost objects with this statement: “The law of finding is not an area of pressing practical concern.”
Anyone who has bought or sold a property since the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared in Ontario last March will have experienced a sea change in how these deals are legally closed.
Young ghosts and goblins may be imagining the hauntings that have happened in their homes this Hallowe’en. For home buyers, the possibility of purchasing a residence associated with a haunting — or other dark event — can be a true nightmare.
Keep your neighbour disputes off the Internet.
Know your commitment about paying a real estate brokerage commission before you sign a listing agreement
Should home sellers have to pay commission on a sale if the transaction doesn’t close?
Refusing to close a deal for the unconditional sale of a home in a rising market is never a good idea. It can lead to expensive consequences.
Homebuyers should get clear details about fixtures and appliances — including HVAC — in their property deals
When homeowners agree to sell but neglect to note the property’s heating and cooling system is rented, chances are they will eventually have to buy out the rental contract.
It’s the night before closing, the seller has moved out and the buyer wants to do a last-minute inspection to ensure there’s been no damage since the last visit.
Can a buyer ever back out of a purchase on the basis of registered easements that entitle third parties to particular rights on the land?
Expensive lessons: Courts tell buyers to pay up after backing out of real estate deals because of easements
Fighting failed real estate deals in court can be futile — and expensive — as shown by the verdicts in two recent Ontario cases.
A buyer’s hefty deposit is forfeited when a judge finds he “deliberately” breached his purchase contract
A buyer of a pre-construction townhouse in Markham found out the hard way what can happen if the property is resold before its closing date and without the builder’s permission.
How should a condominium board act when it receives complaints about a resident smoking in his unit?
Can dead people sign property deeds?
In these times of economic uncertainty, Canadians who own their own homes may be thinking about protecting them from health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
OREA fails its members and the public.
One of Ontario’s most respected real estate lawyers has sounded the alarm against using untested COVID-19 clauses in property transactions.
There is good news and bad news for those of us in the real estate field during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A homeowner who used a “Reader’s Digest” manual to build a house that he later sold was found liable for negligent construction by the Ontario Superior Court earlier this month.
An Ontario court judge has ruled that buyers of a pre-construction condo unit could close their purchase transaction despite the builder terminating the deal.
Ontario’s highest court has levelled an unusually harsh blast at the Tarion Warranty Corporation, saying its compulsory addendum form which must be attached to every builder agreement is complex, difficult to follow and does not protect consumers.
February is RRSP season, and there is no shortage of advice available to Canadians on tax-free investing before the deadline of March 2.
When it comes to real estate, most Canadians speak in terms of Imperial measurement. The majority of home offers I see show frontage and depth measurements in feet, even though we officially switched to the metric system during the time of the first Prime Minister Trudeau.
Since the start of 2020, every new purchase agreement for a pre-construction residential condominium is required to have attached to it an information sheet highlighting important issues that are part of a pre-construction transaction.
One of the questions I’m frequently asked by home sellers is what issues they must disclose during the negotiation of a sale agreement.
How does an interested buyer know if a home’s basement apartment is legal? And what information about basement apartments must real estate agents provide to buyers?
This past year’s GTA real estate market may become known as the year of aborted transactions.
What’s better for Ontario condominiums and their owners: electronic proxies or electronic voting? And what’s the difference?
I am regularly surprised at how frequently a land survey is viewed as
unnecessary when it could be considered the single most important
document in a real estate transaction.
An easy solution to the problem of owner apathy in condominium buildings, and a simple way to encourage interest and participation, is to introduce electronic voting.
If the city of Toronto was serious about tackling the housing
shortage, why would it charge Toronto homeowners $300,000 to
legalize three bachelor apartments in their house?
When homebuyers discover before closing that the sellers are involved in boundary litigation with their neighbours, are they obliged to close the deal?
There’s nothing like having your property burn to the ground to focus your attention on the need for good property insurance.
In today’s real estate market, it’s not unusual for new home buyers to
find themselves in a dilemma.
Property owner stuck with $25,000 in court costs over cottage’s pre-existing issues
“What could be more Canadian than Toronto neighbours arguing about building an addition on a house?” asked Justice Ed Morgan in one of his decisions released earlier this year. “Homeowners arguing about a maple tree, of course,” he continued.
An Ontario Superior Court decision may change the law of joint land ownership and the right of survivorship when one owner dies.
The duty of a condominium corporation to accommodate disabled residents is highlighted by a decision from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal released earlier this year.
A celebration walk is set for tomorrow — June 23 — to dedicate eight newly-named laneways in the Palmerston/Little Italy area.
My personal favourite is the new Wayne and Shuster Lane, celebrating the famous comedians whose names were household words in Canada from the 1940s through to the ’90s. The laneway is located just west of Markham St., in the Bathurst and Harbord neighbourhood.
What happens when a real estate transaction closes, the keys and money have been exchanged, and the buyer arrives at his or her new property only to find the seller still there?
Is a homeowner obliged to disclose to a potential purchaser that the house was the site of a gang murder? This was the key issue last month in a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which reversed a 2018 trial court decision.
Buried in last month’s provincial budget is a measure designed to reduce the cost of obtaining probate — “to provide tax relief for families when they need it most, as the death of a loved one is a difficult time.”
Next month marks the start of cottage season — a good time for a reminder that buying rural property is much different than buying in the city.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has affirmed the obligations of condominium developers to provide buyers with complete and transparent disclosure of a proposed project’s features.
This includes a budget statement which fairly and accurately reveals the costs that purchasers will have to pay in the first year of their ownership.
A court case decided in Bracebridge last month emphasizes the risks of using a Seller Property Information Statement.
It also illuminates the risks of having the same agent act for both the buyer and seller.
With Toronto’s high housing prices, more attention is being focused on the concept of co-housing with buyers sharing occupancy and ownership costs of buying a home.
When Canadians file for bankruptcy, most of their assets — including houses and cottages — become the property of the trustee in bankruptcy and are sold to pay creditors.
One of the few exceptions to this rule occurs when the bankrupt person holds property in trust for a third party.
One way of making better use of the scarce residential land we have in the GTA is to intensify housing.
The City of Toronto’s official policy is pro-intensification. But its planning department seems to be actively opposed to squeezing more housing onto existing land.
Urban planner Sean Galbraith demonstrated — in recent Twitter posts — how Toronto’s own zoning regulations are standing in the way of Mayor John Tory’s goal to create 40,000 affordable housing units.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court’s decision allowing the seller of a Toronto property to keep the $100,000 deposit of a buyer who refused to close the deal.
It never fails to amaze me how the real estate community stubbornly sticks to the old imperial measurements in a country which supposedly converted to the metric system back in the 1970s.
What happens to the buyers’ deposit when they renege on the purchase agreement for a house and the owners resell for a higher price?
What happens when there is a significant discrepancy between the way a home is described on an MLS listing, and the details in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale?
Real estate lawyers get asked all kinds of oddball questions.
Last week, one of my colleagues asked me how to respond to his client’s query about returning after an Open House at her home to find one of the neatly-made upstairs beds in complete disarray.
What happens when an owner receives an incorrect status certificate issued by a condominium corporation?
That was the issue in a case before the Ontario Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Ford’s call to derail energy audits will benefit the home sale process
There is no right enshrined Canadian law that allows smoking either cannabis or tobacco in a rental property
An Ontario Superior Court ruling this year urged property buyers against overextending their finances in the wake of a failed deal.
Fluctuating lake levels put the principle of accretion to the test in a recent court case
While staging is a very beneficial part of real estate sales process, buyers and sellers should always clarify what use will be made of the photos.
A Law Society of Ontario working group is investigating practices involving the payment of fees and the offer of benefits by title insurers to real estate lawyers.
Justice John I. Laskin wrote that Pilot Insurance’s abusive conduct justified a punitive award to Whiten.
A judge decided that John Breen’s title was unmarketable due to building deficiences and that he was covered under his title insurance policy
This is the sad story of a $109,000 flower box. It all began in a large project of 213 condominium garden homes known as Bethamy Woods, in Ottawa.
This is the sad story of a $109,000 flower box. It all began in a large project of 213 condominium garden homes known as Bethamy Woods, in Ottawa.
The standard clause “to the best of the seller’s knowledge and belief,” contained in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, has had its meaning settled by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
A looming Ontario Court of Appeal decision on when discovery and disclosure of the fact that a home was used to make illegal substances occurs during a sale agreement could impact home sales in the province.
A recent court case emphasizes the importance of using a survey and getting accurate property measurements before signing an agreement in a home purchase.
In a Toronto townhouse development, 22 unit owners are living in condos registered to someone else — their real estate lawyers were not showing due diligence
The area in question measure less than six inches wide and the ownership possibly dates back to 1923
A recent B.C. court decision, which ruled in favour of a buyer who reneged on a home purchase after discovering it had been the site of a murder, serves as a warning against signing any non-required agreements.
Decision to rebuild, or not, is up to the construction lender, not the builder.
Adding family as joint owners is easy to do, difficult and expensive to undo
A dispute between next-door neighbours over a two-foot-wide strip of land illustrates the property-law principle of adverse possession.
Pay heed to the judge’s ruling in this relevant case before removing a tree that grows on multiple properties
A court ruled there is no statutory or common-law duty on property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks.