What is Duplicate Certificate of Title?

As many people know, we do not use a deed system in BC for land title. The titles for land are registered in the Land Tile Office ("LTO") instead. Property owners do not possess deeds for BC property. However, the LTO will issue something called a Duplicate Certificate of Title (also call "Duplicate Indefeasible Title"). 

If a Duplicate Certificate has been issued, it must be surrendered to the LTO before the property can be transferred to a new owner. The value of this document readily becomes apparent: rather than placing a mortgage (or perhaps in addition to one) a lender can request that the owner surrender the Duplicate Certificate to the lender for the term of the loan - the property can't be transferred as long as the lender holds the Duplicate Certificate, and so the loan is easily secured.

The Duplicate Certificate can also protect owners against certain types of fraud. Nobody can convey your property, fraudulently or otherwise, without the certificate.

The Duplicate Certificate is a two edged sword, however. Suppose you borrow some money and give the lender the Duplicate Certificate as security. In due time you pay off the loan, but don't recover the certificate. Perhaps the lender ceases to exist, or is acquired by a larger lender. Perhaps, after several years, the lender destroys your file, including the certificate. Perhaps the lender returns the certificate to you, but you don't appreciate its importance, and misplace it. Without the certificate you can't transfer title, and while time and money can probably solve the problem, it will complicate, and perhaps frustrate, your closing.

If you acquire a Duplicate Certificate of Title, keep track of it. If you give it as security for a loan, recover it when the loan is paid off. If you keep it for your own records, put it in a safe place, like a safety deposit box. I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago; luckily it was easy to recover the certificate and all ended well.`

When listing a property a Realtor will generally (and should always) get a title search. The title search will indicate whether the Duplicate Certificate of Title is in the LTO or out, and a good Realtor will check that. If its out action needs to be taken. If you are a seller you can ask about this.

If you're a buyer its likely that your Realtor will include a clause dealing with the receipt and approval of a title search. Title searches can be confusing, but your Realtor should be able to explain it. One simple thing for you to look for as a buyer is whether the Duplicate Certificate is in the LTO or not. Again, if its out there is action to be taken before closing date problems arise. 
Please make sure you contact your lawyer for legal advise on this issue.

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