Alberta

Contributing Editor: Jonathan Ryder
Updated: 2016

Law

Question 1: Under which legislation is the registration system governed?

Answer:

Land Titles Act, Chapter L-4 RSA 2000

Law of Property Act, Chapter L-7 RSA 2000

Possessory Title

Question 2: Can title to property be obtained by adverse possession over a period of time?

Answer:

Yes

Comments:

Limitations Act, Chapter L-12 RSA 2000, 10 years (but case law and changes in legislation should be reviewed).

The Law of Property Act s.69, after 10 years.

See also Alberta Law Reform Institute report Limitations Act Adverse Possession and Lasting Improvements Final Report No. 89 May 2003, http://www.law.ualberta.ca/alri/News-Archives.php

No adverse possession on sunlight. [Note: Debate in Alberta over Limitation of Actions Act potential conflict with Law of Property Act.]

Title Search Period

Question 3: What is the title search period?

Answer:

Documents that pre-date the founding of Alberta (1905), instruments going back as far as 1890's.  Since the Torrens system was created.

Online is not available that far back, but search capability should be available for any documents that have not yet been put online.

In the process of creating electronic images of all old documents, should have all old instruments available on SPIN in a few years.

Current Alberta land title search only required. No historical search necessary.

Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS)

Question 4: Is there a standard APS used for most transactions or is it tailored for each property?  Who generally prepares the agreement?

Answer:

Residential and Commercial: Alberta Real Estate Association Standard form contract for the sale of property. It is only available through a realtor. Agreements are drafted by the realtor.

Commercial property: Realtor often prepares agreement, although it may be subject to legal review from time to time.

Access to Registry

Question 5: How is a search of title conducted?  How is registration completed?

Answer:

Title searches are generally conducted electronically through Alberta Registries SPIN system. PDF copies of title and encumbrances printed easily. Copies of condo plans ordered online and usually available for pick up within one day.

Registration is still done manually. An electronic copy of the Document Registration Request (DRR) form can be pre-filed to "get in line" prior to the submission of the originals to the land titles office. Original copies of transfers and mortgages are still submitted to Calgary or Edmonton land titles offices and registration usually takes one to two business days.

Surveys

Question 6: How are surveys part of the transaction?

Answer:

Survey/Real Property Report - it is the requirement under the standard contract for the seller to provide the buyer with a Real Property Report (RPR) reflecting the current improvements on the property with evidence of municipal compliance prior to closing. If there are any compliance issues or encroachments onto city URW, city property or a neighboring lot, it is the sellers’ obligation to rectify it unless otherwise stated in the contract. It is rare that title insurance will be used in Alberta in lieu of the RPR since it is the sellers’ standard obligation (this has been part of the contract since approximately 1990). If the seller contracts out of this obligation, the buyer usually opts to obtain title insurance in lieu of the RPR due to the costs of the survey ($600-$800) and risks of noncompliance.

Property

Question 7: How can property be held?

Answer:

Property in Alberta can be held by individuals in two ways: (1) as tenants in common; or (2) as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Property owned by a Limited Partnership is restricted by the Alberta Business Corporations Act where the registered owner must be in the name of the General Partner.

Registration

Question 8: What is the registration process?

Answer:

Ownership of property is transferred by way of registration of a Transfer of Land with the Alberta Land Titles Registration System. Other methods of transfer can be effected by a Vesting Order granted by the Court of Queen’s Bench, or Transmittal granted by the Surrogate Court.

Land Transfer Tax

Question 9: Is there a land transfer tax applicable to the usual transfer?  How is it known? How much? Are rebates available?

Answer:

There is no transfer tax in Alberta.