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Real estate

Real Estate

The field of real estate law deals with all facets of the ownership or rights in land or the right to use land. This includes the most well-known tasks of conveyancing real estate, that is, the purchase or sale of a tract of land, whether for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other purposes. However, the area of real estate includes many other rights other than fee simple ownership of land (the broadest form of land ownership available in Ontario). Examples of services covered in the area of real estate Law include the following:

• Purchase or sale of fee simple lands;

• The creation, merger or transfer of a Life Interest in land;

• The creation of a condominium project, either as new construction or conversion of an existing building;

• The creation, termination or transfer of occupancy rights in a cooperative building (nonprofit without shares or for profit with shares);

• The creation of a mutual right-of-way between two properties, such as to create a mutual driveway;

• The transfer of ownership rights or easements over a number of adjacent properties to create a public or private laneway to access the rear of multiple parcels of land;

• The expropriation of all or a part of a tract of land for municipal, provincial or federal purposes (often for widening roads but also for specific projects such as airport expansion, hydroelectric projects, etc.);

• The creation of easements on title to provide for public and private services to be delivered to individual properties and surrounding properties (i.e. water, electricity, Internet, telephone, cable TV, etc);

• The creation of easements at the infrastructure level which may include usages such as pipelines, above ground or below ground hydroelectric wires, trunk water mains, etc;

• The registration of debt obligations against land, typically as a form of secured financing including mortgages, secured lines of credit, conditional sales contracts (such as for the purchase of furnaces and air conditioning equipment or the like);

• The rental of residential units of freehold (non-condominium) or condominium lands or cooperative lands and the enforcement of rights relating to rental agreements including termination of tenancies, collection of outstanding rent, rent controls, repair or maintenance of rental units;

• The rental of commercial or industrial lands (nonresidential), including the preparation and enforcement of commercial leases, distress or termination of commercial leases, and commercial tenants applications for relief from forfeiture (reinstatement of a commercial lease after an alleged default);

• Interpretation of municipal bylaws and official plan as to permitted uses of residential or other lands;

• Applications for minor variances to permit small exceptions to zoning bylaws and
Applications to amend official plans where rezoning is required;

• Subdivision of lands, namely the surveying of a tract of land into individual lots and obtaining municipal approval to register a plan of subdivision permitting the lots to be sold individually;

• Land development in which residential, commercial or industrial buildings are built on legally subdivided lots;

• Construction liens which may be registered against title by contractors, subcontractors or material suppliers for unpaid materials or services;

• Boundary disputes and or adverse possession (squatter’s rights);

• Water lots and riparian rights (lakefront properties);

• Time-share agreements;

• The registration of builder or other restrictive covenants on title (intended to preserve the character of a new subdivision for a period of time).

Notwithstanding the breadth of topics covered under the heading Real Estate, we have set out in the links below more detailed information on the most common transactions. Please feel free to contact us to discuss the more detailed aspects of real estate law which may be applicable to your property or proposed property. Given the typical substantial amount involved in the buying, selling or commercializing real estate, we strongly recommend a consultation with a trained real estate lawyer prior to entering into any agreement involving land or taking on any financial obligation in relation thereto. It is surprising how often people, and even companies, do not seek legal advice before entering into these transactions, sometimes with catastrophic financial consequences. A series of examples of the type of things that can go wrong will follow, but in the interim we refer you to the articles referred to in the pages below which we hope will be of assistance.