Is a Survey Needed?


My client in Oshawa would like to see if there is a survey for her house (she doesn’t have one). Would the city have something like this? Or does she need to get a new survey made? Also in the city (Toronto) no one cares if you are selling your house with no survey. Is it an issue if she sells her house in Oshawa with no survey?


The laws in Ontario are the same, whether you are in Toronto or Oshawa. Title Insurance to a large extent has replaced the necessity of having a survey for the completion of a real estate transaction.

A survey will show the location of the building in respect to the boundaries. It’s important to make sure the foundation is set back appropriately, otherwise the builder needs to move it or apply for permission (a 3 month delay) to leave it in place. That’s why most surveys that you see just show the foundation alone, based upon the timing. However, life moves on, the rest of the building is constructed and the building (eavestroughs) get closer to the lot lines. The first owner moves in and plants landscaping, installs fences, decks, sheds and swimming pools. None of these items will appear on the survey since the survey predated all of them.

Title Insurance will provide for a fee, a best guess: “most of the time, it’s OK”. There is a very important exception: “unless the survey shows otherwise”.  The best evidence available when any issues arise concerning boundaries, land disputes, overhanging eavestrough, encroachments, mutual driveways and adverse possession will be the survey, and in Court the evidence of the surveyor.

Surveys are important, make sure in the Offer you specify a “Surveyor’s Real Property Report” (worth $2,000.00) otherwise the Seller could provide you with a copy of the plan of subdivision (worth $10).

Any surveyor can provide you with a  copy of an older survey completed by another surveyor. The real estate community frequently will use “Protect Your Boundaries” for this purpose.

If your Buyer has raised concerns about a survey, then you have an obligation to explain the advantages and disadvantages concerning a survey as it applies to this particular property, otherwise, you have assumed all the risks.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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