In general, there are limited obligations for the seller to disclose any problems with the property to interested buyers. Further, the sellers are not required to provide any warranties as to the condition of the property they are selling.
Let the Buyer Beware
The law in Ontario is pretty clear “let the buyer beware”. Unless there is a fraud, misrepresentation or mistake made by the seller, the buyer takes the existing property as he finds it. The general rule is that there is no obligation to disclose patent or visible defects. Exception to this rule are serious hidden defects or serious concealed defects.
Hidden defects are those that are not discoverable by a reasonable inspection. A proper home inspection is therefore crucial for anyone buying a resale home. Further, such defects have to be serious enough to either affect the integrity of the house, render the house unfit for human habitation or involve deliberate concealment.
Warranties and Representations
The sellers of residential real estate in Ontario are not obliged to provide any warranties and representations to the buyer. The only warranty included in the standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale is related to the ureaformaldehade insulation. However, the buyer might negotiate for other warranties to be included in the agreement of purchase and sale. For example a warranty that all appliances, heating and cooling systems would be in good working order on the day of closing.
I want to transfer my house to my son. Do we have to pay Land Transfer Tax on such a transfer?
As long as there is no consideration passing between you and your son, and the transfer is a gift to your son, there is no Land Transfer Tax payable.
What is Land Transfer Tax?
Land Transfer Tax is a tax levied by the Ontario government on every transfer of property, subject to some exemptions. The Land Transfer Tax is paid by a person acquiring the property at the time of a transfer. The amount of the Land Transfer Tax is based on consideration passing between a person disposing of property and a person acquiring it. Therefore virtually all purchases of real estate are subject to Land Transfer Tax.
Exemptions to Land Transfer Tax
The Land Transfer Tax is not payable when real estate property being transferred is a gift and there is no consideration passing between the parties. Assumption of an existing mortgage by person acquiring the property or giving a personal loan by person disposing of property to the person acquiring it is a form of consideration and therefore such a transfer would be subject to the Land Transfer Tax.
Transfer of property between married spouses pursuant to a separation agreement is also exempt from the Land Transfer Tax, regardless of the type and amount of consideration passing between the parties. There are some other exemptions under the Land Transfer Tax Act such as transfers involving trusts, transfers to a charity or transfers to a government organization.
First Time Home Buyer’s Rebate
First time home buyers may qualify for a Land Transfer Tax rebate of $2,000 if they have never owned a real estate property anywhere in the world. Further, a spouse of a first time home buyer cannot own any real estate at the time of purchase and must have disposed of previously owned property prior to becoming a spouse of a first time home buyer.
We are buying our first home. The bank insists that we add my father as a co-owner of the home since in order to qualify for the mortgage amount that we need to include both incomes. The entire down payment is coming from our savings and we will be making all the mortgage payments. I really don’t want to include my father. What are your suggestions?
Guarantor of the mortgage v. being registered on title as owner
Adding a person that is not going to be living at the property as a co-owner is generally not recommended, unless you are buying an investment property. You should talk to your bank whether it would be sufficient to have your father as a guarantor on the mortgage, rather than a co-owner.
If the bank still insists on your father’s ownership, there are ways to structure the co-ownership in order to protect everyone’s interest and to minimize your father’s exposure to any tax related consequences of owning a second home.
Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common
There are two ways how two or more individuals can own a real property together. They can either own it as joint tenants or as tenants in common. The main difference between the two is that people who own a property as joint tenants have a right of survivorship, meaning that if either one of them dies, his or her ownership share passes automatically to the other surviving joint tenants. This is in contrast with tenancy in common, which does not have a right of survivorship, meaning that the share of the deceased tenant in common becomes part of such person’s estates. With tenancy in common you can also specify a size of a share that each co-owner owns. For example, your father can own 1% share of the home and you and your spouse remaining 99% share, with all of you owning the home as tenants in common, to make sure that your and your spouse’s share becomes part of your estate rather than transferring to your father in case something happens to both of you.
Section 76 of the Ontario Condominium Act (the “Act”) provides for what is called a “Status Certificate”. Every condo purchase should be contingent upon review of the Status Certificate and a condominium corporation must provide a status certificate for a condominium unit upon request. The Status Certificate is used to learn all about the condominium corporation and provide the buyer with much of the documentation required for review. The Act sets out what must be contained in all Status Certificates, some of which includes:
- Disclosure of all outstanding judgments against the corporation and the status of any legal proceedings to which the condominium corporation is a party;
- A statement of any upcoming major repairs;
- A statement of the common expenses for the unit and any default on the payment of those expenses;
- A copy of the current budget of the corporation; and
- A statement about the most recent reserve fund study and the amount in the reserve fund. (The reserve fund is used for performing major repairs of the common elements of the condo corporation.)
Attached to the Status Certificate are the rules and regulations of the condominium used for governing common elements such as hallways, lobbies and balconies. A real estate Lawyer can review these rules and explain them so that you understand what your rights and obligations are as condo owners.
Remember that according to the Act, the condo corporation may charge a prescribed fee for providing you with the Status Certificate