Date: 05 Aug, 2014| Author: Elliott Dale

As senior lawyer practicing in residential real estate since 1971, Elliott Dale has vast experience in purchases and sales but vacation/rural property purchases and sales pose important issues that clients are advised to consider and these are as follows:

Country Properties contain septic systems that must be approved by the local health department and there can be violations and non-compliances with such local health department. In such case, a septic use permit, i.e. the permit approved by the local township or city’s health and building/zoning department when the septic system is approved is required and this will be proved to the Title Insurer to over-insure any violation, otherwise, letter of compliance requesting that there are no violations or non-compliances of such septic system with the local health, building/zoning departments is required. However, getting such confirmation or over-insuring a possible work order is not the full story.  The seller should be required to pump out the septic tank and produce a receipt and the purchaser should contact such septic company who may have serviced the property for many years to obtain a history of the septic tank and system and septic bed and any past defects or issues that arose to be apprised of any problems that may crop up in the future with such septic system.

If a purchaser has an inspector with experience and qualifications in septic systems and their condition, then you can rely on the report of such inspector. However, to be prudent, the purchaser should not rely on any warranty of such system or other warranties including that of potability and purity of the water taken from a well, but should engage a septic engineering company to have an inspection, report on the condition of the septic system for defects since replacement of a system and relocation of a septic bed can cost a purchaser over $20,000.  Ensuring that a purchaser takes the sample of water directly from the property to the health department to have same tested as to its potability, drinkability and purity is most important and not to rely on the seller to provide the sample. Further, if there is a well on the property, it is important to obtain a current well driller’s certificate confirming the flow rate and pressure is sufficient to supply the well water to the property.  Any realtor experience in such country purchases and sales will be able to assist a purchaser but obtain the proper professionals to confirm the status and functioning of various systems, including septic systems, ultra violet ray water purification system, well driller’s report and certificate is most important as is the obtaining of an up to date survey showing all building, house, outbuildings, garages, sheds, decks, fence locations to ensure compliance with bylaws and easements and encroachments or overlapping rights of neighbouring/abutting property owners.

Access to country/rural properties is most important including cottage properties adjacent or near to any lake or river. Bylaws should be checked for zoning for seasonal or recretational use or other zoning specific restrictions on these country and rural properties. There are many conservation authorities that have restrictions on these type of properties and these must be determined if affection the property with  restrictions including access into the water for any boathouse since the first 66 feet fronting on to the lake is usually owned by the local municipality or township and may be owned by the township. In Muskoka for example, a client who built a very expensive home fronting onto the lake, intended to build a boathouse but the architect/engineer engaged did not discover the ownership of the land into the lake – It is important to note that high water marks on lakes have changed over the years, survey showing such high water marks and shoreline may not be accurate at time of later purchase many decades later and in this Muskoka case, the land under the water was owned by the Township and after lengthy negotiation by the lawyer at Dale Streiman Law LLP, a lease was negotiated to permit the boathouse to be erected and installed for a nominal lease amount for next 99 years.  Access to roads may be private or assumed by the Township as private roads and if so, a survey up to date with inquiries to the local municipality/township is required.

Of course, clients that use Dale Streiman Law LLP will have the experience and advice in such purchases and sales of country or vacation rural properties.