Real Property Reports
Real estate transactions almost always require a current Real Property Report (RPR).
An RPR is a legal document an Alberta Land Surveyor prepares. It’s basically a high level drawing of the property, the boundaries, and the buildings and structures on it, so buyers know exactly what they’re buying.
An RPR contains:
- legal description and municipal address of the property
- date of land title search and date RPR was done
- Certificate of Title (land title) number and names of registered owner(s)
- location and description of all buildings and structures (e.g. decks, fences) with dimensions, directions and distances from the property boundaries
- location and dimensions of any visible encroachments (i.e. buildings or structures that are too close or even beyond the property line)
- designation of adjacent properties, roads, lanes
- evidence of municipal compliance (i.e. the RPR has been reviewed by your municipality and adheres to all municipal bylaws and regulations. They usually stamp and date compliance directly on the RPR)
- illustrations of any easements that affect the property (an easement is an agreement between the property owner and some other party (usually your municipal authority or utility) for them to utilize part of your property as needed)
- Certified Land Surveyor’s duly signed certification and opinion on any concerns
- copyright of the RPR to the land survey company
The standard seller representation agreement used in Alberta requires sellers to provide a current RPR to the buyer, unless otherwise agreed to by the buyer. In most transactions, a buyer’s lender and lawyer require a current RPR to complete the transaction.
A current RPR allows everyone involved to know if there are any issues with encroachment, easements or non-compliance with municipal bylaws.
A current, compliant RPR allows sellers to:
- meet the requirement of some seller representation agreements and purchase contracts
- know the location of the property boundaries and improvements
- know the measurements and distances for the property and improvements
- know any issues with the property or adjacent properties
- receive advice from a real estate professional concerning any property issues
- address compliance issues early in selling process before a sale
If you have an existing RPR, you can sign a Statutory Declaration or Affidavit stating the existing RPR is accurate and the property hasn’t changed since the RPR was prepared.
If there have been changes, you can contact the surveyor to see if they can update the existing RPR. If there have been changes, only an updated RPR with a compliance stamp can confirm the property complies with municipal regulations.
Your real estate professional can also help you find a surveyor if the one on the existing RPR is not available.
Surveyors are responsible for completing the RPR, but they do not determine if the property is compliant. You have to go to your municipal authority, in person, to obtain a compliance stamp.
Before the municipality stamps your RPR, it will look for non-compliant issues, including:
- Encroachment: If a structure encroaches on adjoining property, you and the adjoining owner may enter into an encroachment agreement. In order to do so, the owner of the other property has to agree to allow the encroachment. The parties register the agreement on their property titles. If the adjoining owner doesn’t agree, you may have to remove the encroaching structure.
- Relaxation: If a structure is too close to the property boundary or over an easement or utility right-of-way, your municipality may grant a relaxation to allow it to remain. This will usually require a relaxation permit, for which your municipality will have to conduct a further review and may require additional information such as photos of the structure and an extra permit fee. If the municipality does not grant the relaxation, you may have to move or remove the structure. As part of the sale, the buyer or lender may require a holdback of part of the purchase price or mortgage proceeds until you have a relaxation permit.
If you cannot resolve non-compliant issues before the sale closes, title insurance may be an option to enable the sale to close on time. Click here for more information on Title Insurance and how it differs from RPRs.
Most standard residential purchase contracts require the seller to give the buyer a current RPR with a municipal stamp of compliance. Your lender will typically also need an RPR for your financing.
Benefits to buyers include:
- knowledge of the exact property boundaries
- knowledge of issues with the property or adjacent properties
- knowing if a property can have further developments or improvements
- a current RPR on hand for when you sell (as long as you didn’t build anything new in the meantime)
Typically, sellers are responsible for resolving RPR issues before the sale closes.An RPR should be available to you before you write a purchase contract. If it isn’t, your real estate professional can advise you of your options. You, or your lawyer, must have a reasonable opportunity to review the RPR before the property title transfers and the purchase funds are advanced to the seller.