Changes to the Planning Act have come into force as of January 1st, 2022, and it’s important for lawyers to understand how these changes affect any given real estate transaction. The changes to the Act come as a result of more than two years of consultations with various stakeholders, including LAWPRO. Ray Leclair, Vice President Public Affairs at LAWPRO has said that these changes will save the public time and money, and, from LAWPRO’s point of view, they will reduce the pitfalls lawyers face in various real estate transactions.
Here is a summary of what LAWPRO has deemed as the key changes for lawyers to be aware of in the course of their real estate transactions:
Death of a joint tenant no longer causes abutting properties to merge
Under the new subsections 50(3)(a.1) & 50(5)(a.2), the death of one joint tenant no longer causes abutting properties to automatically merge. Upon the death of a joint tenant, properties may now be dealt with separately, so that complicated title arrangements will no longer be required.
Consent applications can be modified, and purchasers may now apply for consent
Historically, applicants did not have a statutory right to amend consent applications after they were filed. Applicants can now make a request to modify a consent application at any time before the consenting authority grants or denies the consent, pursuant to the updated section 53(4.2.1). In addition, purchasers, or their appointed agents, can now apply for a consent to sever land under section 53(1).
Two years to satisfy conditions
Pursuant to the updated section 53(41), applicants will now have two years to meet the conditions imposed when they obtain a consent to sever.
Certificate of Cancellation
Under the new section 53(45), a municipality may grant and provide property owners with a “certificate of cancellation” upon receiving an application to do so.
Consents for retained lands
The scenario previously addressed by the common law rule in the Acchione case has been addressed in section 53(4.2). Retained lands are now eligible for their own consent certificate upon request pursuant to sections 50(3)(b)(iii) & 50(5)(a)(iii). The applicant can now request a consent certificate for retained lands together with a certificate for consented lands.
“Part of building or structure” exemption broadened
Section 50(9) now allows for a part of property that is not in the building to be dealt with in compliance with the Act.
Expropriated energy line lands to abutting owners
Under section 50(3)(g), expropriated energy line lands may be reconveyed to the existing owner of abutting lands.
Phased Condominiums simplified
Land within a Condominium Plan is now an outlined exception, similar to a Registered Plan of Subdivision exception, pursuant to section 50(3)(b)(ii).
The amendments above have changed the way real estate transactions take place in Ontario, and LAWPRO has advised lawyers to review these amendments to avoid common pitfalls and problems. A summary of the key changes may also be found in Schedule 24 of the Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act, 2021, S.O. 2021, c. 25 – Bill 276.