Property Laws You've Maybe Never Heard Of.

AuthorSimons, Sherry

Did you know that each province in Canada has different property laws?

Property laws deal with buying and selling land, dividing property at the end of a relationship, property liens and claims, registering interests in property, buying and selling goods, inheritances, etc.

The reason for each province having different property laws goes all the way back to the founding of our Constitution Act in 1867. In this Act, the legislators decided which areas of law the federal government would control and which areas the provinces would control. Property laws are listed as a provincial matter in this Act, which is why each province has different laws relating to property.

Property is categorized as real property or personal property.

Real property is land, homes, mine and mineral rights, etc. Personal property is all other property, such as vehicles, mobile homes, bank accounts, furniture, etc. Let's look at a few lesser-known real property laws in Alberta.

Land Registration Systems

Land registration systems are government registries that show who owns particular real properties.

There are two land registration systems in Canada:

  1. title registration, and

  2. deed registration.

    Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and most of Ontario have a title registration system based on the "Torrens" system. The Torrens system is a land registry method developed by Australian Robert Torrens in the mid-1800s. It was first used to keep track of the ownership of ships. The modern version of this system uses a centralized registry controlled by the government. The government guarantees the accuracy of its title registry and has a special fund to pay anyone who suffers a loss due to any errors in the system. It is the foundation of Alberta's Land Titles Act.

    For example, when you buy a house in Alberta, your lawyer registers a Transfer of Title document with Alberta's Land Titles Office, which shows you as the new owner. The Land Titles Office produces a certificate of title that lists you as the current owner of the property. The certificate will also list any other person or company that has a current interest in your property, such as a mortgage registered by a bank.

    Other provinces use the deed system. In this system, deeds to land and other documents that affect land (such as mortgages) are registered in a public registry system. However, the record is open to inspection, verification and challenges. The government does not guarantee ownership rights or other claims to land under the deed system. Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have made efforts to...

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