Property Law Columns

Privacy at home focus of much court debate

Just how much privacy can a person expect in the comfort of
his or her own home, free from any government intrusion? That was the
question considered in August by a three-judge panel of the Alberta
Court of Appeal. The case involved the home of Daniel James Gomboc in
southwest Calgary.

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Buyers, check condo status certificates carefully

In the course of my real estate law practice in Toronto, I often review
condominium status certificates for purchasers. Usually this is a fairly routine
function, where the lawyer looks for arrears in common expense payments,
underfunded reserve funds, litigation by or against the condominium corporation,
special assessments and similar items which could impact on the purchaser or her
bank account.

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Consumer protection common theme in 2008

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 27, 2008 Consumer protection common theme in 2008 When it comes to consumer issues, my goal in this column is to educate, protect, and occasionally, entertain. Over the past year, I emphasized how important it is to have a lawyer’s input in a purchase or sale transaction as early as possible […]

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Star columnist appointed to Tarion board

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 13, 2008 Star columnist appointed to Tarion board Long-time critic will serve three-year term Gail Swainson Real Estate Reporter Lawyer and Toronto Star columnist Bob Aaron has been appointed to the board of Tarion, Ontario’s new home warranty program. "I’ve personally known Bob for 30 years and he has a long […]

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In litigation cases, often only the lawyers win

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 13, 2008 In litigation cases, often only the lawyers win In 1997, James and Barbara Dinsmore bought a new townhouse in Windsor for $177,000 from Masterpiece Homes. On taking possession, they noticed dampness on the basement floor, which raised concerns about potential drainage problems. After investigation, the builder acknowledged that the […]

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Buyer gets frosty welcome

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 6, 2008 Buyer gets frosty welcome A recent decision of the Small Claims Court in Winnipeg illustrates whether the buyer or seller is responsible for damage to a home, which is discovered on closing. Hazem Alzawawy was interested in buying a small house in Winnipeg. He found a tiny 612-square-foot, one-bedroom […]

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Fraudster’s house ‘sale’ ends up costing bank

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 29, 2008 Fraudster’s house ‘sale’ ends up costing bank The fallout from mortgage fraud cases in recent years continues to occupy the attention of lawyers, judges and the innocent parties involved. Back in 2006, Paul Reviczky rented out a house he owned on Sheppard Ave. W. to a person who turned […]

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Tarion softens approach on vendors who sell newly built homes

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 15, 2008 Tarion softens approach on vendors who sell newly built homes Tarion Warranty Corporation, which provides new home warranty coverage to most Ontario houses and condominiums, has amended its registration requirements for purchasers who resell (or “flip”) their homes without moving in. The issue was first publicized in April when […]

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Known dangerous defects must be disclosed by vendor

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 8, 2008 Known dangerous defects must be disclosed by vendor Does the doctrine of “buyer beware” allow a seller to conceal the mere possibility that there is a potentially dangerous condition in a house? That was the issue in a case heard earlier this year in Edmonton. In April 2005, George […]

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Agents should never brush off the need for a survey

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 1, 2008 Agents should never brush off the need for a survey Nathan Vlahos and his wife are about to become first-time homebuyers. They are looking for a home between Richmond Hill and Newmarket and have selected a local real estate agent to help in their search. Vlahos describes himself as […]

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Nail down right-of-access before purchase

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca October 18, 2008 Nail down right-of-access before purchase A decision of the Superior Court of Ontario last month was a powerful reminder that real estate disputes can become very costly if they ever reach a courtroom. Millstone Consulting Services Inc. is a corporation owned by Paula and Vico Von Stedingk. In 2002, […]

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Health card acceptable for voting but not for mortgage

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca October 11, 2008 Health card acceptable for voting but not for mortgage   Why is an Ontario photo health card not a valid form of identification for purposes of a real estate transaction, but it’s perfectly acceptable for the federal election next week? Whenever clients sign mortgage documents with their real estate […]

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Always review purchase agreements with a lawyer

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca October 4, 2008 Always review purchase agreements with a lawyer A recent decision of the Superior Court of Justice highlights the risks of a buyer failing to close a transaction to buy a new home or condominium from a builder. Back in March 2003, Siavash Valizadeh signed an agreement to buy a […]

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Brother messes up with email scam

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca September 27, 2008 Brother messes up with email scam Back in 1998, brothers Faheem, Shaun and Narool Samad decided to purchase a house in Toronto for the three of them and their parents to occupy. At the time, they signed an agreement that set out the terms of the ownership, use, occupation […]

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Not a good idea to interfere with right-of-way

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca September 20, 2008 Not a good idea to interfere with right-of-way Grant and Lisa Hall were next-door neighbours to Loraine Wiltshire in north Toronto. The Hall property is west of the Wiltshire property, and both are registered under the Land Titles Act. There is a shared walkway two feet 10 inches wide […]

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Oil storage tank leak a cautionary tale

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca September 13, 2008 Oil storage tank leak a cautionary tale A scary tale of an oil leak in an Ottawa-area home provides a valuable lesson for homeowners whose homes are heated by oil. In early 2006, an exterior oil storage tank next to the residence released approximately 900 litres of fuel oil […]

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Bylaw sinks pirate ship playhouse

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca September 6, 2008 Bylaw sinks pirate ship playhouse After architect Andrew Dewberry and author Jayne Seagrave bought their house in Vancouver three years ago, they decided to build a tree fort for their two young sons. In September 2006, the fort was constructed in a tree located a few feet inside the […]

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Foreclosure tale is coyote ugly

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca August 30, 2008 Foreclosure tale is coyote ugly Ronald and Ann Bonnar owned a house in Cape Breton, N.S. The house had two mortgages registered against it a first to Royal Bank of Canada, and a second in favour of Canada Trust Company as trustees for the owners of various registered retirement […]

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Presence of asbestos kills home purchase

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca August 23, 2008 Presence of asbestos kills home purchase Carlos Lameiro fell in love with a three-bedroom bungalow, near Dixon Rd. and Kipling Ave. in Etobicoke. It has a finished basement with a separate entrance, air conditioning, two kitchens and a great location. Unfortunately, it came with a problem no one knew […]

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Putting oil in wrong tank adds fuel to this warning

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca August 9, 2008 Putting oil in wrong tank adds fuel to this warning A decision of the Ontario Superior Court earlier this year provides a valuable lesson to property owners whose homes were once heated with fuel oil. Back in 1979, Mary and Francis Bingley decided to replace their old oil furnace […]

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Vendors take risk signing SPIS form

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca July 26, 2008 Vendors take risk signing SPIS form A recent leaky basement court case from the Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay is the latest in what might be called a flood of litigation resulting from the use of the Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS) by Ontario real estate agents. Rhonda […]

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Family feud sparked over ownership of cottages

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca July 19, 2008 Family feud sparked over ownership of cottages A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (see below)  provides a timely reminder that parents who want their cottages to remain in the family should consider a plan for orderly succession in ownership, and put those instructions in writing. […]

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New delayed occupancy warranty benefits consumers

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca July 12, 2008 New delayed occupancy warranty benefits consumers Tarion Warranty Corporation has introduced a new set of rules for delayed condominium occupancies. The new delayed occupancy warranty came into effect July 1, 2008, and applies to every new condominium project as long as no unit in the project was sold before […]

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Closing dates you can take to the bank

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca July 5, 2008 Closing dates you can take to the bank On July 1, Tarion Warranty Corp. introduced a completely new set of rules and procedures for delayed closings of freehold homes and condominiums purchased from builders. According to Howard Bogach, Tarion’s recently appointed president and CEO, the updated warranty is intended […]

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SPIS form could spell rocky legal ride for buyers

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca June 28, 2008 SPIS form could spell rocky legal ride for buyers An Ontario court decision released last month serves as a potent reminder of the dangers of using a Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS) when selling real estate. In December 2003, Paul and Judith Riley signed an agreement to buy a […]

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Long-suffering homeowners need cement case resolution

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca June 21, 2008 Long-suffering homeowners need cement case resolution The Great Eastern Ontario Cement Case is alive and well and thriving in Ottawa. In fact, after wending its way through the Ontario court system for more than 16 years, it may be the country’s longest ongoing litigation. It all began between 1986 […]

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Cheque scam threatens to slow down real estate transactions

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca June 7, 2008 Cheque scam threatens to slow down real estate transactions A recent spate of counterfeit certified cheques hitting Toronto-area law firms threatens to slow down the efficient processing of real estate transactions. In the closing of a typical residential home purchase, a buyer will deliver to his or her lawyer […]

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Check the noise level before you purchase

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca May 31, 2008 Check the noise level before you purchase Next month marks the official beginning of summer, the season when many city folk retreat to their cottages to de-stress and to absorb some much-needed peace and quiet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Earlier this month, I wrote about […]

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Before buying check survey for boundaries

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca May 24, 2008 Before buying check survey for boundaries Taking the law into your own hands over a property line dispute can be dangerous to your bank account, as one Toronto homeowner discovered recently. Sharon and Marino Zorz and Katherina Attard are neighbours on Baby Point Rd., near Jane and Annette Sts. […]

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Buyer soaked with vendor’s final water bill

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca May 17, 2008 Buyer soaked with vendor’s final water bill When Donna bought her home near Warden Ave. and Ellesmere Rd. last summer, she had no idea she would get stuck with the final water bill of the former owners. When the transaction closed in July, Donna’s lawyer Rachel Loizos got a […]

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Good fences make good neighbours but bad lawsuits

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca May 10, 2008 Good fences make good neighbours but bad lawsuits Back in 1915, poet Robert Frost penned the line “Good fences make good neighbours.” Last year, in a bitter dispute involving the owners of adjoining cottage properties, Justice Joseph W. Quinn echoed Robert Frost in the first line of his judgment. […]

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Road access critical when buying cottage

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca May 3, 2008 Road access critical when buying cottage The most important question for anyone buying a cottage property is always, “How do I get there from here?” After all, there’s no point spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a recreational home if the only way to get to it is […]

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Supreme Court rules on joint name transfer issue

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca April 26, 2008 Supreme Court rules on joint name transfer issue It’s not uncommon for an elderly parent to transfer real estate or other assets into joint names with his or her adult children. When this happens, does the law presume that the transfer is a gift, or does the child merely […]

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Buyer pays price for jilting agent

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca April 19, 2008 Buyer pays price for jilting agent Earlier this month, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a decision which highlights the obligations of parties signing a buyer-agency agreement. In the fall of 2005, Helen Clubine was looking at properties in the Orangeville area with her real estate agent Zoi […]

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Beware if you’re buying new to flip

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca April 12, 2008 Beware if you’re buying new to flip A recently discovered policy of the Tarion Warranty Corp. could have an enormous impact on the thousands of buyers of new homes and condominiums who resell the properties without moving in. The policy was brought to my attention by Vidas Augaitis, a […]

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Reno contracts should never be taken lightly

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca April 5, 2008 Reno contracts should never be taken lightly Ruling highlights need to ensure 16 key points are itemized A decision of the Ontario Superior Court released late last year provides a useful lesson to homeowners on entering into a contract for the renovation of a house. In May 2004, Peter […]

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A little info, a lot of trouble

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca March 29, 2008 A little info, a lot of trouble Vendors often create problems for themselves by signing SPIS forms A Superior Court decision released last fall emphasizes once again how dangerous it is for Ontario vendors to sign Seller Property Information Statements, and how the use of the forms serves to […]

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Power of attorney under scrutiny

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca March 22, 2008 Power of attorney under scrutiny Real estate fraud continues to be a problem for industry stakeholders. The latest tale comes from a decision of the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton last month. Back in 1996, Lilianne and Donald O’Brien bought a residential condominium on Kimberley Cres. in Brampton. […]

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Seek advice before making mortgage manoeuvre

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca March 15, 2008 Seek advice before making mortgage manoeuvre The pitch sounds very seductive. “Go ahead. Make your mortgage tax deductible. Yes. It can be done. Yes it’s legal.” The pitch is used to promote an investment technique called the Smith Manoeuvre. According to Smith Manoeuvre Financial Corporation (www.smithman.net), “the Smith Manoeuvre […]

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Landlords can keep properties smoke-free

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca March 8, 2008 Landlords can keep properties smoke-free A decision of the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board last month underscores the right of a landlord to insert a non-smoking clause in a residential lease, and that the clauses are enforceable in the event of breach by a tenant. The decision is relevant […]

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When your lakeside lot starts to grow

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca March 1, 2008 When your lakeside lot starts to grow “Buy land,” wrote Mark Twain. “They’re not making it any more.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s quite possible that the famous author was wrong and that they are making more land. My guess is that Twain […]

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New condo delayed-closing rules coming

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca February 23, 2008 New condo delayed-closing rules coming Would apply after July 1 if approved by province, but documents’ legalese is certain to baffle many Tarion Warranty Corporation is getting ready to implement changes to its new delayed closing regime for condominiums. Earlier this month, I wrote about the proposed changes to […]

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Furnace in a closet voids condo sale

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca February 16, 2008 Furnace in a closet voids condo sale Virtually no consumer protection against builders’ rights to make changes to house, condo In 2003, when John and Ranmalie Brooker signed an agreement to buy a new condominium from a builder, the floor plans for the unit showed there would be a […]

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House must be completely empty when sale closes

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca February 9, 2008 House must be completely empty when sale closes Seller’s belongings must be gone from moment keys are handed over It’s a question virtually every homebuyer asks: When do I get my keys? The answer usually is that the keys are released when the seller’s lawyer receives the money and […]

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Tarion proposals should help buyers in delayed closings

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca February 2, 2008 Tarion proposals should help buyers in delayed closings Tarion Warranty Corp. has released details of its planned changes to the delayed closing warranty for freehold homes. The changes are subject to final government approval, and are slated to go into effect July 1. A new seven-page compulsory attachment to […]

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Is secrecy a major structural defect in buyer protection?

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca January 26, 2008 Is secrecy a major structural defect in buyer protection? How will buyers of new homes in Ontario know the meaning of a "major structural defect" under the Tarion warranty if the corporation imposes a gag agreement on settlements of lawsuits against it? That’s the question after a secret resolution […]

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Lack of contract invites heartbreak

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca January 19, 2008 Lack of contract invites heartbreak For Rick and Lori Bryden, the climax of a sad and costly tale is set for Jan. 29; that’s the day the local sheriff in Brockville is slated to auction off their dream home-turned-nightmare. They never even got to move in. The saga began […]

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House fraud decision rocks industry

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca January 5, 2008 House fraud decision rocks industry Bank ‘did not take steps to scrutinize power of attorney,’ judge rules It took the better part of 18 months and more than $30,000 in legal fees, but Paul Reviczky has his property back in his own name, with the $337,500 mortgage in favour […]

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As if lawyers need extra work

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 22, 2007 As if lawyers need extra work Two-lawyer rule for registering deeds is overkill Question: How many lawyers does it take to register a deed transferring the ownership of a parcel of land? Answer: For the past 212 years, the answer has been “one.” Next year, the answer will be […]

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Document your insured possessions

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 15, 2007 Document your insured possessions Chubb gets hit with $500,000 in punitive damages It was exactly 10 years ago this weekend that a fire destroyed the luxury house belonging to Bridgette Sagl on Doulton Dr. in Mississauga. When Chubb Insurance refused to pay her claim, she took the company to […]

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Time to repeal outdated law

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 8, 2007 Time to repeal outdated law Statute Labour Act could mean that some Ontario taxpayers must perform road work The owners of a farm in England have been hit with a bill for more than 500,000 ($1 million) by the Church of England as the result of an old law […]

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‘Arrogant’ bank chastised by judge

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca December 1, 2007 ‘Arrogant’ bank chastised by judge Whoever said you can’t fight city hall or the big banks never met Brampton lawyer Ken Hood or his clients Mark and Laura McDonald. When the McDonalds bought their cottage near Kapuskasing some years ago, they took out a personal loan secured by a […]

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We need an open, comprehensive grow-op list

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 24,2007 We need an open, comprehensive grow-op list Two weeks ago in this column, I asked whether listing agents should be required to disclose that a home was, or might have been, a marijuana grow operation, or whether they should disclose only if the seller tells them it was a grow-op? […]

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Federal tax cut already in effect

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 3, 2007 Federal tax cut already in effect New homes bought since Oct. 30, 2007 eligible for 5 per cent GST rate While the GST officially won’t drop from 6 per cent to 5 per cent until Jan. 1, 2008, the new rate is already in effect for buyers of newly […]

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Buyer beware if you want that GST rebate

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca November 3,2007 Buyer beware if you want that GST rebate With the GST falling again from 6 per cent to 5 per cent buyers of new homes should be warned about a practice some builders have employed to scoop the purchasers’ transitional rebates. May 2, 2006 was the last date when the […]

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New home worthless, assessor rules

Bob Aaron bob@aaron.ca October 27,2007 New home worthless, assessor rules An interesting decision of the Assessment Review Board last year may be the first Ontario case in which the value of a new home was assessed at zero dollars for tax purposes. As well, it could set a precedent for reducing the assessments and taxes […]

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Aaron & Aaron specialize in Real Estate Law, specifically Sale of Rental, Condominium, Residential, Rural Recreation, Offer to Lease, Commercial, and New Construction