Understanding the Real Property Report (R.P.R.)
How does a Real Property Report protect you?
A current Real Property Report (RPR) provides accurate, clearly presented, formal information about one of the largest financial investments most people ever make. Sellers who can provide a Real Property Report with Compliance from the city protect themselves from liability and provide solid reassurance to Buyers that they are not investing in future trouble.
A Real Property report tells owners and potential buyers about:
- Accurate locations of buildings, improvements and boundaries of the property.
- The rights-of-way and encroachments relative to boundaries of the property.
- Any boundary problems with neighbours or the municipality. For example, they know whether the home is too close to the property line, or part of their garage is on their neighbour’s land, or vice versa. "Good boundaries make good neighbours!"
In cases of dispute, your Surveyor is an expert witness in court and assumes full professional responsibility for the accuracy of your survey. Only a Real Property Report that "reflects the current state of improvement on the property" can fulfill Section 4.12 of the standard purchase contract. If decks, fences, garages etc. have been added, deleted, or changed since the existing RPR was prepared, then the seller will need to have a current RPR prepared as per the terms of the contract. The cost of the Real Property Report is a small percentage of your total investment and a reasonable price to pay for peace of mind.
What Does a Real Property Report Include?
A Real Property Report is a legal document that clearly illustrates the location of above ground structures, significant visible improvements and registered easements in relation to property boundaries relative to property boundaries. It takes the form of a plan or illustration of the various physical features of the property, including a written statement detailing the surveyor’s opinions or concerns.
A Surveyor's Real Property Report Shows...
- Legal description and municipal address.
- Dimensions and directions of all property boundaries.
- Date of the title search and the survey.
- Certificate of title number.
- Registered owner.
- Location and dimensions of buildings relative to property boundaries.
- Location and description of all relevant improvements situated on the property together with dimensions and distances from the property boundaries.
- Location of right of ways or easements registered on the title.
- Designation of adjacent properties, roads, lanes, etc.
- Location and dimensions of any visible encroachments onto, or off of, the property.
- A duly signed certification and opinion by a certified Land Surveyor.
- Permit Stamp (where applicable).
- Parcel designations of adjoining lands.
- How much does a Real Property Report cost?
- The amount of work to prepare a Surveyor's Real Property Report varies from one property to another. Factors that affect the costs are:
- Travel expenses of the field crew.
- The size, shape and natural features of the property.
- The number, size and location of buildings and improvements.
- Availability and location of survey monuments on or near the property.
- Age and availability of the property boundary information (some subdivision surveys are more than 120 years old)
An average RPR in Calgary would cost about $525 + GST. In many cases, it is more economical to update an existing Real Property Report. Most surveyors will update an RPR from their files at a fraction of the cost to prepare a new one. Average updates can cost between $300 – $400, depending on how many and how big the changes from the original might be. Sometimes one can end up paying up to full price for an update of an RPR over 10 years old.
A Real Property Report does not include replacement of any property corner posts. Arrangements can be made to have property boundaries visibly marked on the ground. It is most economical to have this additional service performed at the time of the survey. Neighboring landowners occasionally share the cost because of the mutual benefit of the Real Property Report and marking of boundaries.
How Long is a Property Report Valid?
The Real Property Report is a "snap shot" of the property on the date of the survey. Subsequent improvements are often made to a property or to adjoining properties. These may be new or modified fences, decks, driveways, garages or other features. Old documents may appear to reflect current conditions, but neighbors may have built additions that are over the property lines or easements may have been registered against the property. Only an updated Real Property Report can show their location relative to property boundaries. Changes to your title will also be shown.
What does Compliance mean, and how much does it cost?
Once a new or updated Real Property Report is obtained, it must be sent or taken to the City of Calgary for "evidence of municipal compliance" as required by Section 4.12 of the purchase contract. This evidence is called a "Certificate of Compliance" and currently costs under $100.
If the improvements (buildings, fences, decks, etc.) on the property do not comply with the City of Calgary set-back rules, the City will advise that a Development Permit is required at about double that cost.
If any improvement encroaches onto City land, then an Encroachment Agreement is required at a cost of about $500.00. The Encroachment Agreement becomes registered on the title.
These are one-time fees. They do not have to be paid again each time the property is sold. It is possible that both a Development Permit as well as an Encroachment agreement is required. For these reasons, one is well advised to obtain the proper development permit prior to any construction work being done.
As a general rule, all of the following set-back requirements must be met in order to obtain a Certificate of Compliance. There are some exceptions for most older properties when the City often grants an Advisory Stamp (in lieu of a Certificate of Compliance) even though the improvements do not comply:
- The House - the foundation wall of the sides of the house must be 1.2 metres or more from the side yard property line. Only 1.16 metre clearance? No problem! The City will likely round up in this case to 1.2 metres. The rear foundation wall must be at least 7.5 metres from the rear property line.
- A shed (or outhouse) - any shed that is not attached to the house and is less than 10 square metres in size can be located anywhere on the property. A shed of any size, small or large - that is attached to the house must be at least 1.2 metres from the side property line.
- A deck - if a deck is less than .6 metres in height, can be located anywhere on the property. The City then regards it as a patio. If the deck is .6 meter or greater in height, it must be back at least six metres from the rear property line and 1.2 metres from the side property lines.
- A detached rear garage - must be set back at least .6 metres from the rear property line. If the garage has a maintenance free exterior such as metal or vinyl siding, stucco, unpainted cinder block etc., then it can be built right up to the side property line. If the garage does not have a maintenance-free exterior, it must be set back at least .6 metres from the side property line. The City doesn't permit eaves or eaves troughs to extend on to the neighbour's or the City's land.
- Fences - Make sure the fences, decks and retaining walls do not encroach on to the neighbour's land. The purchaser’s lawyer may insist on an encroachment agreement because it gets registered on his title as well as the seller’s title. This becomes a serious problem because according to the purchase contract, Section 5.1(e), the Seller has warranted to the buyer that the improvements "do not encroach onto neighbouring lands. Title insurance will not solve this problem, as it does not cover fences. Can the buyer walk from the contract? Perhaps. It might take a very good lawyer to keep this one together without anyone getting sued.
If the lot is pie-shaped, the odds are better than not that at least one of the fences will not be on the property line. The fence may be several feet on the neighbour's land, which gives the purchase the impression that the lot is significantly larger than it really is. An RPR (Real Property Report) should be ordered immediately upon listing the property and prominently displayed with the feature sheet so there is no doubt where the fences are located, etc. It may very well prevent lawsuits later.
An RPR with Compliance is also a handy tool in measuring the size of the house as well as the lot. Delaying obtaining an RPR may very well cause problems further down the road, when you find out too late that there is an issue.
The above information is provided as a guideline only and is not intended to give legal advice. Please consult your solicitor for his/her opinion on your own particular situation.
What are Easements and Rights-of-Way?
The Alberta Land Surveyor’s Association has a very comprehensive answer to this on their web site.
What is the difference between a Surveyor’s Certificate and a Surveyor's Real Property Report?
Real Property Reports first came into existence in Alberta in October of 1987. Prior to that date, we had survey certificates that didn't satisfy the requirements of a Real Property Report as set out in paragraph 4.12 of the Alberta Real Estate Association's current Residential Real Estate Purchase Contract.
How is a Real Property Report prepared?
A registered Alberta Land Surveyor is the only individual who can legally prepare a Real Property Report in Alberta. A valid Real Property Report must bear the original signature and permit stamp of the Alberta Land Surveyor.
In preparing a Real Property Report, an Alberta Land Surveyor will:
- Search the title of the subject property.
- Search all pertinent encumbrances registered against the title of the subject property.
- Search all plans related to the location of boundaries of the subject property.
- Perform a field survey to determine the dimensions of the property and location of improvements. It will be necessary for the Alberta Land Surveyor to access property markers on the subject and nearby properties.
- Prepare a plan (diagram) reflecting the results of the field survey and title research.