Prepared by a land surveyor, the certificate of location should be in the title file of the immovable. In most cases it is required for a real-estate transaction. Regardless of whether the seller has a certificate of location in his possession, the obligation to supply one remains. If the vendor does not have a certificate, the seller must have one prepared. Furthermore, obtaining title insurance does not relieve the seller of his obligation to provide an up-to-date certificate of location.
The certificate of location is in two parts: a location plan and a written report in which the land surveyor gives his professional opinion upon:
The certificate of location and the notary
The notary preparing the deed of sale must have on hand a current certificate of location showing the present state of the immovable. This will allow him to counsel the parties adequately.
Revision of the certificate of location
After many years, it may become necessary to revise the measurements, the form and positioning of the private portion sold in relation with the other privates and common portions of the immovable, as legal and physical changes may affect the situation and state of the premises. Such changes including a change in the numbering of the lots following a cadastral renovation usually render the previous certificate obsolete (A renovated lot has a single number of 7 digits).
This is also true when a co-owner takes upon himself the execution of work which causes an encroachment on the common portions and or one or more private portions of the immovable.
Examples of encroachments are numerous:
The repercussions of these encroachments are not only private in nature. They may compromise the integrity of the original cadaster and, consequently, the ownership rights enjoyed by all the co-owners of the immovable. One must keep in mind that each of them has an undivided right of ownership in the common portions. In certain cases, these encroachments cause a situation of non-conformity to the municipal By-Laws.
A new certificate of location?
The offer to purchase should deal with the obligation or not of preparing a new certificate of location. Under the terms and conditions of the standard form prepared by the “Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ)” (the body regulating real-estate brokerage in Quebec), the promise to purchase provides that “the VENDOR shall supply to the PURCHASER (…) a certificate of location describing the present state of the entire co-ownership including the private portion, or if not available , a certificate of location describing only the private portion , showing any cadastral renovation if any, this new certificate being at the expense of the PURCHASER if it does not reveal any change from the previous certificate ».
Thus the vendor must supply a certificate of location describing the present state of the co-ownership (the entire co-ownership), including its private portion. If this document is not available, he shall then supply a certificate of location describing only its private portion. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to assume the cost of preparation of a new certificate of location, if it does not show any significant change from the previous version. Should this not be the case, the fees of the land surveyor become the responsibility of the vendor.
The many advantages of a new certificate of location
The preparation of a new certificate of location insures the legal peace of mind of the purchasers. It will allow you, for example:
To find out if the present occupation of the premises is in conformity with the original cadastral plans in the case of previous alteration to the private portion;
To know, if needed, the alteration carried out in the immovable over time;
To correct any irregularities so revealed;
Certificate of location on the private portion
Generally, the co-owners-vendors supply only the certificate of location of their private portion. Legally deficient, this practice is based on the very high cost and the lengthy delays for the preparation of an updated certificate of location for the entire immovable, more particularly when the targeted co-ownership comprises a large number of units. In a co-ownership, all of the measurements of the immovable must be retaken, over and above the verifications of all the private and common portions of the building.
Unfortunately, the certificate of location, which covers only the private portion will not reveal everything, such as if work contrary to the Laws and By-Laws has been carried out elsewhere in the immovable, including the common portions. If this is your situation, you will then have to rely on the Board of Directors and the professional managers, if any, who should be capable of supplying relevant information to the purchaser.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! The certificate of location of the private portion does not allow you to be informed of all of the deficiencies which could affect the common portions of the immovable. In most cases, the land surveyor will limit his report to the verification of the measurements of the apartment and, if applicable, of the private storage and parking spaces.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: Only the general certificate of location of the entire immovable allows a purchaser to have full knowledge of the status and present condition of the common portions in relation with the title deeds, the cadaster and the Laws and Bylaws.
WARNING! The encroachment caused by any irregular work allows the syndicate, or any co-owner, to require the demolition of such work even though it is of minor importance and causes limited damages.
CONSULT THE PUBLICATION: Purchase and sale of a condo: Everything you should know at pages 298 and following.