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A survey is a two-part report prepared by a qualified Ontario Land Surveyor pursuant to the Surveys Act (Ontario) bearing the seal of the surveyor. It consists of a plan showing the features of the land, such as buildings, fences, and natural features, and a written report (often endorsed on the plan) indicating any encroachments or other problems revealed by the surveying process.

One should bear in mind that a survey represents the property at a specific point in time, namely the date of preparation shown on the survey. Any feature shown on a survey could change or be eliminated immediately following its preparation. For example, fences could be relocated, additions could be made to buildings or buildings could be demolished and new ones constructed. The older a survey, the more its accuracy should be questioned and confirmed.

A survey will provide the following information:

  1. the extent of title to the property by showing the frontage, depth and area occupied;
  2. the location of the land relative to adjoining property and the location of all buildings and structures on the land. Specific concerns are adherence to municipal by-laws for the positioning and size of buildings and the feasibility of future plans to alter the property;
  3. the boundaries and location of fences (which may differ), together with any easements (the right to use another’s land for a particular purpose) and rights of way of which the surveyor is aware;
  4. any parts of real property that hang over the property line onto another landowner’s premises, known as encroachments (for example, a tree, bush, stairway, garage, leaning fence, part of a building, or other fixture); and
  5. confirmation that a property has access to a public street or highway.

Thus a survey is critical for detecting title defects at time of purchase or loan and is similarly useful to current owners of real estate.

Download the PDF: Concepts Newsletter – Fall 2010

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