Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Okanagan - Buying a New Home - Charges against title

Understanding the legal issues with purchasing a property or new home can be very challenging. The following article written by Una Gabie of Pushor Mitchell will explain Encumbrances or charges against title.

Buying a new home can be an extremely exciting process. It can also come with its own stresses. There are many things to keep in mind, in addition to the physical condition of the property, when you are purchasing a new home including encumbrances registered against title to the property. Encumbrances, in general terms, are charges registered against title which may restrict the use of the property in some way or, in some cases, provide additional benefits to the property owner. Encumbrances include statutory rights of way, easements, covenants, and statutory building schemes. Each of these charges has a different purpose. A statutory right of way generally provides certain bodies with the ability to make use of some portion of the property. For example, utility services for a home on a property are dealt with by statutory right of way. Easements can either benefit the property owner or permit a neighboring property to make some use of the property. For example, some properties are set up such that the driveway crosses another person’s property and, therefore, an easement can be registered to protect the benefiting property’s route of access. Restrictive covenants can limit a person’s right to make certain uses of their property while a statutory building scheme may dictate certain things with respect to buildings or improvements on the land. It is very important to carefully review these encumbrances prior to or at the time of the purchase so that you, as the purchaser and new home owner, is aware of the restrictions on your rights. Your legal advisor can assist you with understanding the impact of these charges.

If you are purchasing property that is part of a strata development, additional considerations arise. You should be alert to the status of the strata by reviewing the bylaws, receiving disclosure with respect to the contingency fund, and ensuring that all strata fees have been paid to date and that you are aware of your strata fee obligations. The strata bylaws can limit such things as the pet and rental allowances for your unit. Again, your legal advisor can assist you with this and make sure that you fully understand the restrictions with respect to the property you are purchasing.

Purchasing property on First Nations land raises its own unique considerations because such land is sold on a leasehold basis rather than freehold. This means that you, as the purchaser, are acquiring your rights to the lands and/or improvements pursuant to a lease. It is important to have your legal advisor review these considerations with you.

If you have any questions about purchasing your home, please feel free to contact Una Gabie at Pushor Mitchell LLP at (250)869-1230 or by email at

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