Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) Information

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  • Information

    BCFSA’s information provides clear, concise, easy-to-read explanations of the requirements for real estate professionals under the Real Estate Services Act (“RESA”), Real Estate Services Regulation (“Regulation”), Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”), and other applicable legislation.

    This information is intended for use by real estate professionals, to support their understanding of the standards they must meet in the delivery of real estate services.

The Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (“LTSA”) operates the B.C. land title and survey system focusing primarily on three areas:

  • Land Titles.
  • Land Surveys.
  • Crown Grants.

In B.C., land ownership, transfers and charges are recorded in the Land Title Office (“LTO”) register. B.C. uses a land registration and land transfer system known as a “Torrens System”, which serves as conclusive evidence that the person (or other legal entity) recorded on title as being the owner is in fact the owner, subject to certain statutory exceptions, and also serves as a record of all other real property interests recorded on title. This conclusive evidence of ownership (referred to as the principle of “indefeasibility”) means that, except for certain statutory exceptions set out in the Land Title Act (“LTA”), the person who is registered on title as the owner of the land has a legal right to the land, and others searching the title can rely on this. The LTO register is operated and administered by the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (“LTSA”). The LTSA’s electronic search service allows registered users (for a fee) to perform title searches and obtain copies of registered documents and plans. Obtaining and reviewing a title search is often the first step in the due diligence process.

The statutory exceptions to the principle of indefeasibility, as set out in the LTA, generally stated, include:

  • The subsisting conditions, provisos, restrictions, exceptions and reservations, including royalties, contained in the original grant or contained in any other grant or disposition from the Crown;
  • Federal or provincial taxes;
  • Municipal charges;
  • Certain leases;
  • Highways and other public easements;
  • Expropriations or escheats;
  • Charges, liens, and interest registered on title or that may be registered on title;
  • Incorrect description of boundaries;
  • Fraud in which the registered owner has participated; and
  • Conditions, rights or obligations imposed by the Forest Act.

What Information does the Land Title and Survey Authority Provide?

The LTSA, through their Land Title Offices in British Columbia, offer several services members of the public, including property owners and real estate professionals, may access. Some of these services include:

  • Searching land title records
  • Ordering copies of a property title
  • Ordering land title documents and survey plans
  • Ordering some strata documents such as the strata plan, and bylaws

What Appears on Title

  • Date/Time: Corresponds to the date and time the title search was ordered and obtained from LTSA.
  • Cancelled Information: Real estate professionals can order title searches showing current information only, or searches showing cancelled information which includes historical incumbrances that have since been discharged.
  • Title Number: This is a reference number for the applicable title. The previous title number is also shown. This number will change if there is a subdivision of the property, consolidation, or other changes requiring a new number be issued.
  • Application Received/Application Entered: The application received date is the date the application is received at the LTO creating the new title. The application entered date is the date the application achieves full registration and the new title is created.
  • Registered Owner in Fee Simple: The owner’s name, along with their mailing address is provided here. This is the information to be used to confirm the seller on the contract of purchase and sale matches the owner of the property. It will also show if there are multiple registered owners. The registered owner may also be a “nominee”, or “bare trustees” in trust for a beneficial owner. The beneficial owner is able to sell its beneficial interest in the lands to a buyer without a transfer of registered title. This may be done by transferring all of the issued and outstanding shares in the company, which is holding title in trust, to the buyer. It may also be done if the beneficial owner is an individual by the beneficial owner transferring its interest by way of an unregistered document. Since there is no transfer of registered title, the lands are able to be sold and transferred by the beneficial owner to the buyer without triggering the obligation to pay property transfer tax. Whether or not the registered owner is both the legal and beneficial owner of the land should be determined as soon as possible.
  • Taxation Authority: This information provides an easy way of identifying which municipality or district the property is in.
  • Description of Land: The property is provided with a unique legal description, usually consisting of a lot or parcel number, other identifiers and a plan number. A unique nine digit parcel identifier (“PID”) is also assigned to each lot or parcel.

    Obtaining and reviewing a copy of the relevant plan is usually required in order to confirm that the land which the buyer wishes to purchase has been identified correctly. It is not advisable to simply rely on civic or municipal addresses for the purposes of identifying the target lands.

    Whether the land in question is a strata lot will also be immediately identifiable by reviewing the legal description. If the land is a strata lot, the legal description will include the words “strata lot” and will also reference a strata plan number.
  • Legal Notations: Legal notations are different than charges. They are not encumbrances, but document other types of interests or legislative matters or restrictions that affect title (sometimes to the “benefit” of the title being reviewed). The most common example is an appurtenant easement. If the land has the benefit of an easement over adjacent land, that easement will appear as a legal notation on title. However, licensees should be aware that the presence of an appurtenant easement as a legal notation on title does not guarantee that the easement exists or is enforceable.
  • Charges, Liens and Interests: There are a wide variety of charges, liens and interests (“charges”) that may encumber title to the land, and which may be of concern to prospective buyers. Real estate professionals must make note of which charges will remain as permitted encumbrances on title following completion of the proposed transaction, and which will be required to be discharged by a seller prior to completion of the proposed transaction.

    Some common charges include:
    • Statutory Covenants: These are covenants which may only be registered in favour of a prescribed class of entities, being the Crown, Crown corporations or agencies, municipalities, regional districts, the South Coast BC Transportation Authority (Translink), local trust committees and other persons designated by the Minister of Transportation. These covenants may impose obligations which are negative in nature – such as, an obligation not to subdivide the land, or an obligation not to construct any buildings above a certain height. These covenants may also impose obligations which are positive in nature, such as an obligation to construct, repair and maintain certain improvements on the land.
    • Statutory Rights of Way: These types of easements can be granted to the same prescribed class of entities noted above and may also be granted to a water user’s community, a public utility, a pulp or timber, mining, railway or smelting corporation, a pipeline permit holder or other designated person. The most common example of statutory rights of way include statutory rights of way in favour of municipalities to maintain sidewalks and other public access over lands, statutory rights of way in favour of municipalities to allow for the construction, operation and maintenance of utilities such as sewer and water lines or statutory rights of way in favour of telecommunications companies to allow for the construction, operation and maintenance of fibre optic cables and other telecommunications infrastructure.

      Statutory rights of way may be registered against title to the land in its entirety (known as a “blanket” charge), or may be limited to a certain part of the land. If the statutory right of way is limited to a certain part of the land, this will appear on the title search as part of the statutory right of way charge and will be shown as being “part on plan”. The plan may be obtained by searching using its plan number, and the statutory right of way will only be applicable to that “part on plan”.
    • Easements: These are a right that one parcel of land has been granted over another parcel of land. Easements can be granted in relation to a number of different types of rights. A common easement is an easement to allow for access such as common driveway. Less common easements include easements for support (to prevent a land owner from excavating supporting soil near property lines to ensure the soil under adjacent properties do not collapse into the excavation), easements allowing the land owner to drain water across an adjacent parcel or easements allowing the right to make noise or cause other disturbance. Easements may be registered on title as a “blanked” charge or may be limited co certain parts of the land.
    • Restrictive Covenants: These are obligations imposed on one parcel of land to refrain the owner from using that land in a certain way for the benefit of another parcel of land. Restrictive covenants must always be reviewed due to their inherent nature of imposing restrictions on the use of the land.
    • Statutory Building Scheme: These may be registered against two or more parcels to impose restrictions consistent with a general scheme of development.
    • Leases: Leases may be registered on title to protect a tenant’s interest. In B.C., leases with terms of less than three years do not need to be registered in order for the tenant’s tenancy to be protected, and buyers of land must take the land subject to such unregistered leases, unless other legal arrangements for termination are agreed upon. Therefore, licensees should be aware that a lack of any registered leases does not mean that there are no tenants occupying the lands.
    • Equitable Charges and Rent Charges: These may impose obligations on the owner to make payments to the applicable chargeholder (typically, payments are only required if the owner is in default of some other obligation stipulated in the agreement).
    • Certificates of Pending Litigation: This is a declaration which may be filed by a litigant claiming an interest in the land (which may include a dispute as to legal ownership to the land itself). The purpose of a CPL is to warn all interested parties of a legal claim involving the land and the potential change to ownership of the land or another interest in the land.
    • Builder’s Liens: Builder’s liens may be registered by persons who have provided work or material under a contract for improvements to the land and who have not been paid. Registration of a builders’ lien is not evidence of the debt outstanding, but the builders’ liens may only be discharged after the owner resolves the dispute underlying the claim of builders’ lien or by paying the disputed amount into court to secure a discharge of the builders’ lien.

      Since builders’ liens can be filed at any time up to 45 days after the work has been completed, when buying a newly constructed or renovated home or building, it may be possible for title to be clear of registered builders’ liens during the due diligence period, but for the lien to be filed following completion of the purchase and sale.
    • Judgements: A judgment may be registered on title, indicating that a court has awarded a judgment in favour of the chargeholder against the registered owner, and that the amount payable under such judgment is outstanding and not yet paid. Ultimately, the judgment will only be discharged after the amount outstanding is satisfied, and accordingly the licensee should ensure that the seller is responsible for discharging a judgment prior to completion of the transaction.

Duplicate Indefeasible Title

A duplicate indefeasible title is a duplicate hardcopy version of the certificate of title, which may be physically “taken out” and kept in possession by the registered owner. If a duplicate indefeasible title has been taken out, title to the lands is effectively “frozen” (no transfers of title may occur and no mortgages may be registered until the duplicate indefeasible title is returned to the LTO). If a duplicate indefeasible title is issued, this should be flagged for immediate follow-up with the seller to confirm whether they have it in their possession. If a duplicate cannot be located and is lost, an application for a replacement duplicate certificate must be immediately submitted by the seller since it is a time-consuming process to rectify this issue. If the proposed transaction contemplates a short period of time until completion, the buyer should be advised that its proposed timing may not be possible due to this issue. It is generally inadvisable for parties to enter into a contract of purchase and sale for the lands until the duplicate indefeasible title issue has been fully rectified.