Real Estate Blog

Your certificate of location

Thinking of selling your house? If so, it's time to comb through your filing cabinet and pull out a few documents.

You'll need to find the previous deed of purchase, which proves that you are indeed the owner of your home, as well as your most recent municipal and school tax bills. You'll also want to gather all bills for repair or renovation work done on the property, along with your energy bills for the past year.

If you live in a condo, add the following to the pile: the co-ownership agreement as well as the minutes of the syndicate of co-owners' general meetings and its financial statements.

And on top of all that, you'll need your certificate of location. Whoops! Here's where things might get tricky.

Is your certificate up to date?

The standard promise-to-purchase form from the Organisme d'autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ, the provincial real estate and mortgage brokerage authority) stipulates that the seller must provide the buyer with a certificate of location describing the "current" state of the immovable (the property). It may well be that your certificate is obsolete—even if nothing on the property has changed since the certificate was issued.

First, let's recap what the certificate of location is, exactly. It is a mandatory part of every real estate transaction, consisting of a plan and a report in which a land surveyor states their professional opinion on the state of your property. It informs the buyer, the notary and the mortgage lender of the laws that may affect the property in question.

The certificate includes everything and describes everything about the premises: the land, trees, fences, the building and its cladding, windows and balconies, the pool, the shed—everything. It also lists any easements on the property, such as rights of way or rights of view, or easements in favour of public utilities (e.g., Hydro-Québec).

The document also describes the state of your property in relation to provincial laws and municipal bylaws. In this area, the cadastral renewal (updating of the land registry) begun by the Québec government in the 1990s until 2021, as well as the new mapping of flood-prone areas established by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs could render your certificate of location obsolete.

As you can see, the more time has gone by, the greater the odds that your property situation has changed. It's quite likely that if your certificate of location is more than five years old, the notary will require a new one to be drawn up.

And one thing is now certain: after 10 years, it will expire. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled (in Ostiguy v. Allie) that part of a property can be acquired, simply by lapse of time, if it has been occupied for more than 10 years without opposition. Consequently, any certificate of location dating back more than 10 years is too uncertain.

So, who pays?

It's up to the seller to provide the document, so they need to cover the cost of a new certificate, if one is required. However, if a buyer demands, in their promise to purchase, that a new certificate of location be produced but it turns out to be identical to the existing one, then the buyer must cover the cost of the new one.

Given that it can take from three to five weeks to receive a new certificate of location and the notary will need to see it before the signature of the deed of purchase, it's best to get this taken care of right away.

Your best course of action is to contact me. We'll look at your case together and make sure everything is in order and all your documents are properly updated—and ready for the notary! 
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