You are here

Real estate law column by Bob Aaron

Know your cottage's shore road allowance

I just found out that the boathouse and dock in front of my cottage were constructed on a municipal road allowance, and that I do not own them. What can I do? 

Cottage season is in full swing on this Canada Day weekend, and it’s a busy season for real estate agents in holiday country. Buying a summer home in cottage country, unlike a city real estate transaction, makes road access and waterfront issues of critical importance. 

Never buy a resale condo without reviewing the status certificate


Why does a lawyer have to review the condominium status certificate on a resale purchase? What are the risks if it’s not done?

Although there is no legal obligation to obtain and examine a status certificate before buying a condominium unit, it is extremely risky not to do so.

The wording of the status certificate is mandated by the Condominium Act.

Court rules against condo with smoking cigar

We have experienced an overwhelming smell of cigar smoke coming from the condominium unit above ours. What can we do?

Those were the living conditions of Sharon MacKay and Tom Cheney that prompted them to proceed with an ultimately expensive and prolonged court action against their condominium corporation and its directors.

What happened to MacKay and Cheney was probably the worst example of second-hand smoke migration ever to reach a Canadian courtroom.

Get your new room measurements in writing

Where can I find the size of the condo unit I'm buying in the builder’s pre-construction contract? 

I frequently get asked this question when I review builder offers with clients. In more than half the contracts I see, the sad answer is that there is no reference at all to room sizes or the area of the home. 

A purchase agreement without a measured floor plan allows a builder to deliver a unit smaller than what was promised in the sales materials. 

Get your renovation deals in a contract

I’m about to do a major renovation in my home. What kind of paperwork do I need?


Excellent answers to this question were provided by Toronto lawyer Roger Gillott, a partner with the firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s annual Real Estate Law Summit.


Last month’s program is the largest annual gathering of Ontario lawyers and Gillott provided many practical tips about what homeowners should be aware of when planning a renovation — and how lawyers can help them in advising on the contracts.


Floor plans can be your best defence

What happens when the new-build condominium unit you buy from just the plans is significantly different from the one the builder has completed? Are you obliged to close the deal? 

That was the issue in a case heard in the Ontario Superior Court late last year. 

Gillian Gallow signed an agreement of purchase and sale with a developer, HPH (Broadview) Limited, back in January, 2011. 

Renovations may hide problems from home buyers

I just learned that my house was renovated without a proper permit from the city. Do I have title insurance coverage for the necessary repairs? 

A client recently asked me this question. He had purchased his home two years ago and last year noticed that the main floor ceiling was starting to sag. 

A structural engineer determined that a critical supporting wall had been removed during renovations by a previous owner. The house was not safe to live in unless temporary construction jacks were installed to keep it from collapsing. 

Failed property sale by email a ‘poster child’ case, judge says

Last month you wrote about a ruling by the late Justice Sydney Robins which paved the way for signing real estate agreements by fax. Does that also apply to signing offers by email?

The short answer is: yes. As I see it, the reasoning in the Court of Appeal decision in the 1989 case of Rolling v. Willann also applies to concluding real estate deals by email. In that case, Justice Robins wrote that technological advances which expedite the transmission of documents “should be encouraged and approved.”

Electronic signature decision will look to Judge Sydney Robins

 Judge Sydney Robins’ many decisions included one in the real estate field which epitomizes his brilliant grasp of the law and its evolution in our modern society. 

Robins, a judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario and later Ontario’s Court of Appeal, passed away earlier this month. Over a career spanning more than 60 years, Robins served as a judge, lawyer, teacher and role model to thousands of lawyers. I was privileged to work with him when we both served as directors of the Law Society of Upper Canada in recent years. 

Court finds agent must be paid for doing job

A seller must pay commission to the real estate agent if a full-price offer is presented, whether or not the offer is accepted, according to a ruling of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last month. 

Back in September, 2008, Richard Fody signed a listing agreement with T. L. Willaert Realty Ltd. for a vacant parcel of vacant land near Tillsonburg. The $229,000 listing price was later reduced to $199,900. 


Subscribe to Real estate law column by Bob Aaron