The Quality of Title and Adverse Possession

In Ontario, there are two land title registration systems: one under the Registry Act and the other under the Land Titles Act.  We commonly associate the former with paper deeds and other title documents, and the latter with electronically recorded title documents.  Around the year 2000, the Province of Ontario began the administrative process of converting paper land registration records for properties registered under the Registry Act to electronically recorded Land Titles parcels.  Title to these converted parcels is referred to as Land Titles Conversion Qualified.

Not all parcels of land have been converted.  When deficiencies or questions regarding title to land under the Registry Act are identified, the property is not automatically converted to the Land Titles system, and such parcel of land is left under the governance of the Registry Act. These properties are referred to as non-converts.

Adverse Possession

There are certain benefits to converting property from the Registry system to the Land Titles system, one of which is to limit the risk of an adverse possession claim.

Adverse possession can give rise to property rights acquired by someone, other than the registered land owner, by virtue of their use or occupation of lands.  When title to a property is converted to Land Titles Conversion Qualified, the possibility of an adverse possession claim is removed, save and except for any such claims that would have matured by the time of conversion.   In Ontario, the time requirement for use or occupation giving rise to an adverse possession claim is a minimum of 10 years.  So, unless this minimum period of use or occupation had been reached by the time the property is converted to Land Titles Conversion Qualified, a claim based on adverse possession would not be successful.

Non-convert properties can still be converted into the Land Titles system.  The process involves first determining and correcting the title deficiencies that prevented the administrative conversion.  Then, a lawyer’s affidavit is required, setting out details of title and the steps that were taken to correct the title deficiencies, and requesting the Land Registrar convert the property to the Land Titles system.

If you believe that your property is affected by an adverse possession claim or is still in the Registry system, you should speak with your real estate lawyer at Mills & Mills LLP regarding options to protect and enhance your ownership interests.To learn more about the real estate services that we can provide, contact us at 416­­-863-0125 or send us an email.

 

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