Question 6

How are surveys part of the transaction?

Alberta:

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.

British Columbia:

The Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) oversee 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.

Manitoba:

To date, there is no requirement of a current survey for a property being sold and purchased (residential or commercial). However, the City of Winnipeg indicated a desire to implement a regime that would, indirectly, obligate residential property owners to obtain a current survey as a condition of registering a transfer of land to their purchaser at the Land Titles Office.

While most lawyers believe it is important for a purchaser to obtain a current survey, their use has significantly declined over the last 15 years - coinciding with the availability of title insurance which insures losses sustained by "problems" that would have been ascertained prior to closing if a current survey had been obtained. The move from current surveys to title insurance has been driven primarily by mortgage lenders.

New Brunswick:

Surveys remain essential to proper conveyancing, however, their use has severely declined. A survey is not required for registration of an interest in land (e.g. transfer), unless in relation to a subdivision or consolidation, but encouraged to determine boundaries. Generally required by lenders, however, they will accept a title insurance policy as a substitute. If a survey exists, it may be updated simply by the vendor's statutory declaration that there have been no changes or setting out any minor changes.

Newfoundland and Labrador:

Surveys are still very important in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, with increased use of title insurance, older surveys are often used with the purchase of an insurance policy to close a transaction. This is primarily a time-saving strategy (and a bit of an ostrich-approach to problem avoidance). The cost of a survey is often shared between vendors and purchasers, or a policy, depending on the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Northwest Territories:

Waiting for input. Please consider contributing

Nova Scotia:

Surveys are optional.

Title insurance is more affordable and more popular although it does not provide any boundary definition or monument location information. Title insurance is popular because it covers other risks not covered by a survey such as the tax status, encroachments, locations of wells, etc.

Comments:

Real property practice standards dictate that lawyers should advise purchasers to obtain a current survey (or at least a location certificate) or title insurance prior to the purchase.

Surveys and location certificates are prepared by registered Nova Scotia Land Surveyors. The survey provides the boundary definition. In a location certificate, the surveyor certifies the location of the buildings within the apparent lot lines but does not certify the boundary lines.

Lawyers certify title subject to survey.

Nunavut:

Waiting for input. Please consider contributing.

Ontario:

Surveys remain essential to proper conveyancing however, their use has severely declined. A survey is not required for registration of an interest in land (e.g. transfer), but encouraged to determine the extent of title (i.e. boundaries). Generally required by lenders, however, they will accept a title insurance policy as a substitute. If a survey exists, it may be updated by the vendor's statutory declaration that there has been no changes or setting out any minor changes.

Prince Edward Island:

A qualified land surveyor may provide a survey or plot plan to show the size and shape of the lands, position of the building and other structures on the property in relation to lot boundaries, to confirm municipal setback requirements are met, and to delineate encroachments on or from adjacent lands and to identify encumbrances, (such as rights-of-way and easements). A survey is also used to identify discrepancies between the deeded dimensions and the actual dimensions on the ground.

A survey is not required for a real estate transaction as title insurance can be obtained instead, but it is recommended.

Quebec:

Waiting for input. Please consider contributing.

Saskatchewan:

Diminishing importance, but some lenders still accept them instead of title insurance.

Yukon Territory:

Waiting for input. Please consider contributing.