Do you really have a ‘survey’?

Posted on: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Vendors often think they have a survey, but what they produce is only a photocopy of part of the registered plan of subdivision showing no buildings. Prior to drafting the agreement of purchase and sale it is important to determine whether or not the vendor does in fact have a legal plan of survey, and if it is not, at least you can avoid your vendor promising to produce something they do not have.

The main purpose of a survey is to provide property owners with an accurate description of the dimensions of their property by setting property markers on the corners, and reporting on any additions or improvements that were made to the property over time (such as adding a fence or new building). Under the laws of Ontario, only a licensed Ontario Land Surveyor may provide this information. A survey is often required by property owners who wish to make changes to their property (add a building, building a fence, installing a pool etc.).

Some examples of clauses that are commonly used which can create problems include:

“Vendor will provide a survey”. This is assuming the vendor has the original survey to provide. If they do not, the purchaser can insist on one being obtained at an expense of approximately $600.00 to $900.00 for a simple residential survey. Also, a requirement to obtain a survey could delay the closing date.

“Vendor will provide a clean copy of the existing survey at the vendor’s expense”. Often, the copy provided is not legible, and the municipal zoning departments will not provide an opinion unless all numbers are legible. Including the language “at the vendor’s expense” can be misleading when the vendor did not intend to provide anything beyond what was already in their possession. The purchaser’s solicitor can demand a copy from Land Survey Records Inc. which maintains an online site where you can obtain a copy of an existing survey at an approximate cost of $150.00. The website where this information can be obtained is:

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