What is Land Title?

Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership. Conveyance of the document may be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person. Title is distinct from possession, a right that often accompanies ownership but is not necessarily sufficient to prove it. In many cases, both possession and title may be transferred independently of each other.

Strata title is a form of ownership devised for multi-level apartment blocks and horizontal subdivisions with shared areas. The 'strata' part of the term refers to apartments being on different levels, or "strata".

Strata titles involve the vertical subdivision of land and the building on the land into lots and common property. The lots comprise the units or apartments while the common property comprises the land above, below and around the building, as well as common facilities within the building (such as foyers, elevators, stairs, landings, car park, driveways and a range of equipment).

The lots are effectively parcels of "airspace" usually bounded by floors, walls and ceilings as defined on a plan drawn by a surveyor and registered in the local titles office. The common property is everything that is left after the lots are taken out of the original land parcel. Because of this approach the plan does not actually define the common property. Sometimes there are structural features and services located within a lot but which serve other lots. These are usually deemed to be common property even though they are situated within a lot


Types of ownership – Estate in Land

An estate in land is an interest in real property that is or may become possessory. This should be distinguished from an "estate" as used in reference to an area of land, and "estate" as used to refer to property in general.

In property law, the rights and interests associated with an estate in land may be conceptually understood as a "bundle of rights" because of the potential for different parties having different interests in the same real property.

Categories of Estate:

  • ·         Freehold (Fee Simple)
  • ·         Leasehold
  • ·         Statutory Estates
  • ·         Equitable Estates

 Freehold is the ownership of real property, being the land and all immovable structures attached to such land. This is opposed to leasehold in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period has expired.Immovable property includes land and all that naturally goes with it, such as buildings, trees, or underground resources, but not such things as vehicles or livestock (which are movable).

For an estate to be a freehold it must possess two qualities: immobility (property must be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land); and ownership of it must be of an indeterminate duration. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, then it cannot be a freehold.

Fee Simple is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is the most common way that real estate is owned in common law countries, and is ordinarily the most complete ownership interest that can be had in real property short of allodial title, which is often reserved for governments. Fee simple ownership represents absolute ownership of real property but it is limited by the four basic government powers of taxation, eminent domain, police power, and escheat, and it could also be limited by certain encumbrances or a condition in the deed. How ownership is limited by these government powers often involves the shift from allodial title to fee simple such as when uniting with other property owners acceding to property restrictions or municipal regulation.

This is the most prevalent type of common law estate. It is what most people think of when they speak of “owning” land. Although the land is technically owned by the Crown, the holder of Fee Simple can use the land, exclude others from it, and dispose of it.


Encumbrances on title

Encumbrance is legal technical terminology for anything that affects or limits the title of a property, such as mortgages, leases, easements, liens, or restrictions. Also, those considered as potentially making the title defeasible are also encumbrances. For example, charging orders, building orders and structure alteration. These charges registered on title can be financial or non-financial in nature.

An easement is an interest in land which provides certain rights to use the land of another for a specific purpose. It does not provide rights of exclusive possession. Easements are frequently used to provide rights of access or the right to install pipe-lines or drainage works. While these agreements grant rights, they also have the effect of partially restricting an owner’s use of the affected portions of land. For example, if you own property and a utility company has a main gas line passing under your land, it is likely that they will have a registered easement that will guarantee them access to the line and restrict uses or activities that would hamper such access or cause safety concerns.

Easements and rights-of-way are usually registered on the certificate of title to the property. They remain with the land and are automatically transferred from one owner to another as the land is sold. Easements remain on the title until the holder of the easement discharges their rights from the certificate of title.

An easement or right-of-way usually describes a particular portion of property, and although not visible on the ground, provides an area of access to the holder of the easement or right-of-way.

Often an easement is referred to as a ‘right-of-way.’ This term is particularly used for energy and municipal-related easements.

The statutory right of way concept was introduced by the 1945 amendments to the Land Registry Act. This legislation initially utilized the term "right-of-way" but it was modified to "statutory right-of-way" in 1978 to more accurately reflect its purely statutory basis. A further minor amendment occurred in 1980 when the hyphens were dropped. Since then the concept has been known as a "statutory right of way". In 1945, the statutory right of way was available only for the benefit of municipalities and primarily for water, drainage and sewerage purposes. However, the legislation has been amended numerous times to modify and expand both the purposes and the types of users for whom it is available. In 1978, the list of available purposes was both expanded and simplified at the same time by allowing a statutory right of way to be used for any purpose necessary for the operation and maintenance of the grantee's undertaking.

A covenant, in its most general sense, is a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action. A covenant is a type of contract in which the covenantor makes a promise to a covenantee to do or not do some action. In real property law, the term real covenant is used for conditions tied to the use of land. A "covenant running with the land", also called a covenant appurtenant, imposes duties or restrictions upon the use of that land regardless of the owner. In contrast, the covenant in gross imposes duties or restrictions on a particular owner. Covenants for title are covenants which come with a deed or title to the property, in which the grantor of the title makes certain guarantees to the grantee. A Covenant is also used to describe a contract or a legally binding promise.

Encroachment is a term which implies "advance beyond proper limits," and is a concept in which a piece of real property hangs from one property over the property line of another landowner's premises. The actual structure that encroaches might be a tree, bush, bay window, stairway, steps, stoop, garage, leaning fence, part of a building, or other fixture. Typical building encroachments are roof level or upper level cornices; roof overhangs; exterior cladding; window sills and copings; bay windows; and encroachments resulting from building envelope upgrades or construction error. Underground tunnels, areaways, bridges and fuel oil tanks are other examples. An Encroachment Agreement is a legal charge, registered in priority to all non-City charges, against the title to the lands in the Land Title Office. It consists of the following parts:

- An Easement allowing the building to encroach onto City street and/or lane;                            

- An Indemnity whereby the owner releases and indemnifies the City against all actions that arise as a result of the presence of the encroachments. It also includes requirements for the land owner to maintain insurance to the satisfaction of the City’s Director of Risk Management; - A Statutory Right-of-Way over the lands allowing the City to enter the lands to rectify any default in the maintenance of the encroachment, including provisions for inspection and removal;                                                                                                                                         

  - An Equitable Charge allowing the City to appoint a receiver for the sale of the lands for payment of any sums specified in the Encroachment Agreement that are in arrears.


 What is Title Insurance and why it is needed?

Title insurance is an Insurance to protect a lender or owner against loss due to legal defects or in the event of a property ownership dispute. Title insurance is most frequently used for mortgages, and is required by a large number of lenders. It is usually purchased at the time of conveyance at the request of the lenders.

Title insurance is a police issued by title insurance company, assuring that the title is a clear in the name of title owner. That means if owner wish to sale the property, that time he don't have any problem to sell that. If any problem creates after selling the property to the new owner that time title insurance company will pay the damage for that or take action to solve that problem.


How to read your copy of the title search results?

Special attention should be paid to remarks. Usually they list inter alia which means among other things, term used in formal extract minutes to indicate that the minute quoted has been taken from a fuller record of other matters, or when alluding to the parent group after quoting a particular example. This is telling you that all the other units within strata are also affected by this charge and usually it is not a concern.

Attention should be focused on all financial charges like mortgages and if there are more then one it is a concern and should be investigated in more depth. Having more than one mortgage could potentially mean that the selling price might not be enough to cover money owing on mortgages and the Seller could not provide free and clear title. Having only one mortgage in most cases is not a concern.

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