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Real estate law column by Bob Aaron

Land survey trumps all documents in a house purchase

·  True or false? A land survey is unnecessary if the house purchaser buys title insurance. 

·  Answer: False 

A court decision released last month by small claims court in Welland, Ont. illustrates the commonly held but incorrect belief that title insurance replaces the need for a land survey. 

In November, 2008, Jonathan Strutt wanted to buy a house on Stonehaven Rd., in Dunnville, Ont. Strutt is the pastor of the local Calvary Pentecostal Church. 

HST rebate rules don't include all your relatives

Many buyers of new homes and condominiums may be surprised to receive a demand from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to repay as much as $24,000 in HST new-home rebates that they received on closing their purchases. 

The CRA claim arises when a third party, who is not a close relation, has been placed on title at the insistence of a mortgage lender. This often occurs when the buyers themselves do not qualify for a mortgage. 

Tarion: Buyers may not be able to sue for claims exceeding warranty limits

A recent court decision raises the thorny issue of whether it should be legal for builders to restrict the ability of new home and condo purchasers from suing them for deficiency claims exceeding the limits of the Tarion new home warranty. 

The case arose at West Harbour City, a 510-unit residential condominium project on downtown Fleet St. It was developed by West Harbour City (I) Residences Corp., a subsidiary of Plazacorp Investments. 

Condo Act review promises major change in Ontario

A sea change is coming for the management and operation of the province’s 600,000 condominium units if recommendations in Stage 2 of the Condominium Act review, released last month, become law.

Last year, the Ontario government retained Ottawa-based Canada’s Public Policy Forum to lead a review of the 2001 Condominium Act and recommend changes to solve a number of perceived problems with the legislation.

Does century-old murder still haunt Massey house?

In the real estate field, when the value of a house might be affected by a history of murder, suicide, ghosts, hauntings or other unexplained happenings, it is often referred to as stigmatized.


To some buyers, a house with something like this in its background becomes psychologically tainted, even if there are no scientific grounds for the belief.


Land survey outlines what's really yours

I think it’s time that a land survey be made a compulsory part of every real estate transaction. It baffles me why a clause to that effect is not a part of the standard form agreement of purchase and sale, or at the very least added to every contract as part of a schedule.

In lay terms, a land survey shows:

Homeowner in deep end thanks to old survey

When a judge ordered Kenneth Sorensen to move his in-ground swimming pool, I can only imagine it spoiled his whole day.

The story began sometime before Sorensen bought 288 Raven Dr., in Kelowna, B.C., in 2007, and his neighbours, Olutoyese and Denise Oyelese, bought number 282 next door in 2009.

A prior owner of the Sorensen property constructed an in-ground swimming pool on the lot behind their house.  A patio and landscaping surrounded the pool, and a cedar hedge was planted along the line of an old chain link fence. A new fence was constructed beside the original one.

Court finds open building permit is fatal title flaw

Two recent decisions of the Ontario Superior Court have determined that an open municipal building permit — where the city has not closed its file — constitutes a serious title defect allowing a purchaser to back out of a real estate transaction.


 In the first case,Thomas v. Carreno, Brenda Thomas signed an agreement to purchase a house in Toronto from Sonia Carreno and David Jennings for $1,510,000 back in June, 2011. She paid a deposit of $100,000 with the offer.


Floor-by-floor sales venture would work better as a condo property

My nomination for the the most oddball real estate scheme of the year is last week’s proposal by Larry Chilton and his real estate broker to sell separate floors of his Victorian rooming house facing Trinity Bellwoods Park.

As reported by Kamila Hinkson last week in the Star, the first and second floors are available for about $480,000 each, plus the cost of renovating the house to create separate units. Half the house is also for sale, and the whole house is tagged at $1.7 million.

Cellar flood among wave of lawsuits from disclosure form

In the wake of widespread flooding in Toronto last week, I’ve had a number of phone calls and emails from people trying to sell their properties. They ask about their legal obligation to advise the buyers of a flood which occurred after the signing of a purchase and sale agreement, but prior to closing.


That was the exact issue which came before Ontario’s Divisional Court this past May.



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