If you are purchasing a home, a current survey certificate by a qualified surveyor is the only way to determine the lot boundaries and the location of the improvements on the property. The plan filed with the Land Title Office, while helpful, is not conclusive. The Land Title Office does not certify plans as being an accurate reflection of the boundaries and dimensions of a piece of property.
A survey certificate will typically show the lot boundaries, improvement locations and often the locations of any rights of ways or easements registered against the property. This will also assist a purchaser in determining whether any of the improvements on the property encroach on a neighbouring property or if there are improvements from an adjacent property that encroach on the subject property. The cost of a survey varies but is a small price to pay to determine the true boundaries and location of improvements on what, for many people, is the most expensive single purchase they ever make.
On occasion, the seller of the property will have an existing survey certificate. Depending on the age of the survey certificate and whether any changes have been made to the property or improvements, the buyer may be satisfied with the seller’s survey certificate. In many cases, the survey certificate would be accompanied by a statutory declaration from the seller confirming that, to the best of their knowledge, the survey certificate is still current and no changes have been made to the improvements on the property. Although not as good as a current survey certificate, this route does provide the buyer with some comfort if they do not wish to obtain a new survey.
If the buyer is getting a mortgage, their lender will often require a survey certificate as part of their mortgage requirements. In many cases, lenders will accept a title insurance policy instead and, in some cases, will require title insurance. Title insurance provides the lender with protection against a number of different potential issues with a property (some encroachments, fraudulent issues with title in the past). There is also an opportunity to purchase a homeowner policy that provides similar protections to the homeowner. Buyers should consider whether they also wish to obtain a survey certificate if one is not already available.
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637
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