British Columbia

Contributing Editor: Richard Wenner

Updated: Lisa Poeckert (June 2012)

Law

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

Answer:

Land Title Act

Land Act

Strata Property Act

Comments:

Land Registry system is governed by the BC Land Title Act. BC implemented the Torrens system of land registry (adopted from Australia) around the time BC was established as a possession of the English Crown (when the British Common law was introduced to mainland BC) in November 1958. This precedes British Columbia’s entry into confederation in 1871. Our Torrens system of land registry, with the concept of indefeasibility, has been around for a very long time.

Possessory Title

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

Answer:

No. Adverse Possession is outlawed under section 23 of Land Title Act. Section 23(3) of Land Title Act (“after an indefeasible title is registered, a title adverse to or in derogation of the title of the registered owner is not acquired by length of possession”).

Title Search Period

Question 3: What is the title search period?

Answer:

N/A. A title search period is not necessary. Section 23(2) of the Land Title Act states: An indefeasible title, as long as it remains in force and uncancelled, is conclusive evidence at law and in equity, as against the Crown and all other persons, that the person named in the title as registered owner is indefeasibly entitled to an estate in fee simple to the land described in the indefeasible title, subject to […]

Comments:

On account of indefeasibility i.e. the “what you see is what you get” philosophy of the registry backed up by the Assurance Fund guarantee – (indefeasibility), this does not apply in BC.

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:

A standard form, Contract of Purchase and Sale, is copyrighted by the Canadian Bar Association and the BC Real Estate Association and is used for most transactions. It is, however, tailored for each property. Usually, it is prepared by a real estate agent, and once executed, it is reviewed by a lawyer or notary.

Access to Registry

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

Answer:

Title searches can be obtained in-person at a land title office or electronically (BC Online account).

Land title registration is completed by submitting an application over the counter or electronically (see registration process below), and sometimes using the service of a professional registry agent.

Surveys

Question 6: How are surveys part of the transaction?

Answer:

The Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) oversees the quality of BC’s land survey structure. This work includes a close liaison with land survey professionals to establish survey standards, approve legal survey plans for public and private lands, and address property boundary issues. At the direction of the province, the LTSA (through its Surveyor General Division) issues Crown grant documents which transfer Crown land into private ownership.

Property

Question 7: How can property be held?

Answer:

Fee simple ownership

Leasehold

Registration

Question 8: What is the registration process?

Answer:

The land title registration process follows these steps:

  1. The application is received via the Electronic Filing System (EFS) or at the Land Title Office as prescribed by Director's Requirements. The application is date-stamped, document numbers are assigned and required fees are collected. Pending applications are noted on the appropriate title.
  2. Land Title Office examines the applications, documents and plans in the order they were received to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

If all the documentation is in order, the registration is completed and recorded with the application number, effective on the date and time the application was submitted.

If the documents are not found to be acceptable for registration, a Notice Declining to Register (defect notice) is issued under section 308 of the Land Title Act. The deficiencies need to be remedied within 31 days or the application will be cancelled. In certain circumstances, this 31-day period may be extended.

The turnaround time target for examining land title registration transactions is six business days.

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:

Property Transfer Tax is paid when an interest in a property is acquired or purchased and is payable on the fair market value of the property being transferred. The tax must be paid when changes to a certificate of title is registered with the land title office.

The amount is 1% for the first $200,000 and 2% for any value above that. There are a number of exemptions that may apply, exempting all or a portion of the transfer from Property Transfer Tax. A list of exemptions can be found here: http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/business/property_taxes/property_transfer_tax/exemptions.htm