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Real Estate

In a real estate transaction, whether you are the buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, developer, lender or insurer, you need the protection of lawyers who understand your circumstances, foresee your needs, and protect your assets. The last thing you need is to be bogged down in a deal-killing quagmire of legal issues. Our clients come to us because we get their deals done—quickly and efficiently.

Lawrences is known throughout southern Ontario, especially Brampton, Peel Region, and the Greater Toronto Area, for its strength and depth in real estate law. We act for individuals, companies, developers, builders, banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, and municipalities. We have acted on the purchase and sale of large and small commercial/industrial properties across the GTA, including residential, commercial and industrial condominiums, manufacturing plants, shopping centres, office buildings, farms, and recreational and other institutional facilities.

We offer specialized expertise within a multi-service firm. When your other professional advisors know that Lawrences is handling your real estate purchase or sale, they will know that your documents will be meticulously prepared, your lawyer will have handled such matters before, and no facet of your situation will be overlooked.

Our clients include:

  • Lenders and Borrowers
  • Business owners, manufacturers and distributors
  • Professionals and investors
  • Developers and builders
  • Shopping centre and commercial or industrial landlords and tenants
  • Municipalities and government agencies and institutions
  • Not-for-profit corporations, charities and associations
  • Trustees
  • Corporations, partnerships and joint venturers
  • Condominium Corporations, Boards of Directors and property managers
  • Families, farmers, estates and individuals

If you are our client, our first concern is your transaction, no matter how big or how small.

What are development charges? Can I negotiate terms of a Loan Commitment? When are homebuyers eligible for the HST rebate? How do I enforce my mortgage if the debtor defaults? Can I make changes to my Unit or the common elements? What are typical terms in a Vendor Take-Back Mortgage? What is a turnover meeting and when does it take place? How can a Board of Directors remove a property manager? Should I take title to the cottage with my adult children? What is a site plan agreement and how can it be satisfied? What are common expenses? Are they fixed or can they change? Can a developer retain the Buyer’s deposits pending closing? Should a commercial deal always start with a Letter of Intent? What is title insurance and is it mandatory when buying a house? What concerns should I have in buying a new home from a builder? What is the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common? What do I need to be aware of when purchasing a resale condominium? How is land transfer tax calculated and when does it have to be paid? What can a Buyer do if the developer changes the Disclosure Statement? My movers are coming early on the closing day. When can I get the keys? How is a construction lien registered on title and how can it be released? How does a Condominium Corporation lien a unit for unpaid common expenses? What is the difference between the occupancy closing and the final closing? What are the duties of the Board of Directors of a Condominium Corporation? What are the HST implications associated with buying or selling farm property? What kinds of property disputes are potential problems with cottage ownership? Can a Tenant hold back rent if the Landlord has not met its Lease obligations? Do I need a building location survey if I am purchasing a residential property? What is the difference between common elements and exclusive-use common elements? Can I stay on the farm and continue to operate for a period of time after I sell it? What are the options for a Tenant if it wants to terminate a commercial lease early? If I am arranging a construction loan, why does the lender have to hold back funds? How can I secure my interest in a property that is or may be involved in litigation? What are the HST implications associated with buying or selling residential property? When can a Condominium Corporation place a lien on a Unit for unpaid common expenses? What kinds of unique legal concerns are associated with the purchase of cottage property? What are the income tax implications to me and my family if I sell my farm to a developer? What does a developer have to include in a Budget and what happens if the amounts are wrong? What kind of security is a lender likely to require on the purchase of a commercial property? What happens at an annual general meeting and what are the unit owner’s rights at the meeting? What kinds of security does a lender usually require to finance the purchase of real property? When a commercial Tenant defaults in the payment of rent, how does the Landlord recoup payment? What kinds of environmental issues can cause me problems on a purchase or sale of farm property? Is a Landlord able to evict a commercial Tenant if it has breached its obligations in the Lease? What is the process for obtaining a severance consent or minor variance approval on my property? What options are available to a landlord when a commercial tenant defaults in the payment of rent? If I am selling my property and the deal falls through, do I automatically get to keep the deposit? What are the requirements to qualify for the refund of land transfer tax for first-time homebuyers? My neighbour wants to remove a healthy tree between our properties. Do I have any right to stop him? What kinds of due diligence conditions would be appropriate for the purchase of a commercial property? When a Tenant moves out, what is the required condition of the leased premises for return to the Landlord? What is a disclosure statement and do I need my lawyer to review it when I am buying a new condominium unit? If the Condominium Corporation needs to purchase a new elevator for my condominium, do I have to pay a share of the cost? What kinds of representations and warranties do I need from the Seller if I am purchasing a commercial real estate property? If I sell my farm to a developer, why would I consider taking back a mortgage and how would I structure terms to best suit my needs? I want to change the use of my property from an industrial to a commercial use. Is this possible? What planning approvals do I need? What must a developer do before it can enter into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale with a Buyer in a proposed condominium development? I am selling my house and the kitchen appliances to a buyer. If my fridge breaks down before closing, do I have to repair or replace it? I have a listing agreement with a realtor but I want to sell my property privately to a friend. Can I sell to him without paying commission? I have been served by the municipality with a Notice of Expropriation for a road widening off the front of my property. What are my rights? My next door neighbour and I have a shared driveway but we never cross over to each other’s side. Can I put up a privacy fence within my lot limit? I am developing land as a small residential development. The municipality tells me I have to sign a Cost-sharing Agreement with local landowners. Why? My partner and I are buying a home together. I have owned a home, but he has not. Does he qualify for the First-time Homebuyers Refund of land transfer tax? I own real estate with my siblings and we disagree over whether to keep or sell the property. Can I force my siblings to sell the property so I can realize my interest? A new survey of my property indicates that my rear yard fence is not located along my lot limit and encroaches six feet into the adjoining property. What are my rights? The purchaser of my property failed to complete the transaction and defaulted under the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and did not close on the deal. Am I entitled to keep the deposit paid? What is the difference between basic or minimum rent and additional rent in a commercial lease and what kinds of exclusions should a Tenant seek to the Landlord’s list of additional rent items to be charged? My spouse and I are buying our first home together. I have owned a home before, but sold it before we became spouses. My spouse has never owned a home. Does she qualify for the First-time Homebuyers Refund of land transfer tax? I purchased my house for 30 years and recently learned that there was a mortgage registered on title 25 years ago which, my lawyer did not discover. The lender under that mortgage has never demanded payment/taken steps to enforce the mortgage.
Thank you to Manpreet Uppal for all the work you have done for us.  We truly appreciate your professionalism, and excellent service, advice and confident representation, and will not hesitate to contact you again!

Kim Russell

I have very much enjoyed the experience of working with Lawrences for the past 3 years on a complex condominium development project.  I have found Lawrences not only to be technically up to date and very familiar with all the procedural intricacies and external players to our project, bu they are very quick to respond, which is a rare commodity indeed among law firms.  I recommend Lawrences without hesitation.

Lawrence Fagan

To Heather Picken, Head of Lawrences Real Estate Practice Group:

With the completion of our development project, we wanted to thank you for your support, professionalism and affordable fees,  We have found your presence by our side reassuring.  You are an outstanding lawyer with a strong passion for your clients' interests.  As we move forward to explore further projects, we will continue to liaise with you for your counsel and support. We would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone in need of a real estate lawyer.   

Asif Zaidi
Cortleigh Properties Inc.

We have worked with Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP since 2005 for condominium development and governance matters.  They have consistently provided us with excellent service in a professional and courteous fashion.  We will most certainly continue to work with them for many years to come.

Robert Bellissimo
Strategic Property Management

There's no doubt in our minds that the work Heather Picken did to correct the title to our home, helped pave the way to closing a trouble-free transaction.  Thank you and best wishes for continuing success in solving real estate puzzles.   

Tom and Marilyn Brydges

Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP provided me with tremendous support, knowledge, and experience in handling the sale and dissolution of our corporation, and ultimately satisfying its 200 plus members.  I felt confident and had trust in the legal guidance and responses of Heather Picken and Michael Luchenski in handling the corporate and real estate issues at all times.  I can highly recommend this team to any corporation seeking similar legal services.

Bruce McClure
Peel Seed Co-operative Inc.

“Lawrences has been around for over 90 years and there is good reason why. I have used the firm for a number of corporate issues, real estate matters, estate planning, employment law, and dispute resolution over the past five years. If there is a deadline, they meet it; if it's returning a phone call, it gets done, and if it's an email to discuss or send, you can rest assured it's being looked after.

Lawrences is not one person trying to tackle every task, but a very experienced team of professionals with expertise in every field—by far the best law firm my company has been exposed to over the last ten years. The lawyers will always give you an honest opinion and always make sure you’re getting the best possible guidance—not just one person in your corner but a whole support team.

Michael Luchenski makes sure to communicate so everyone can understand. Lawrences adds a personal touch to make sure their clients are not only satisfied with the work Lawrences provides to the client, but also—most important—how the clients feel when they leave the office.”

Paul Azzopardi
Kenco Machinery Movers & Millwrights Ltd.

“Watson Properties Since 1879 Limited has had the pleasure of being a client of Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP since January 2013. More specifically, Watson Properties has worked directly with Ms. Heather M. Picken who is the Chair of the firm’s Real Estate Group.

The level of professionalism, dedication, hard work, and creative thinking that Ms. Picken uses on all of our real estate deals is a testament to the entire Real Estate Group at Lawrences. We have completed numerous deals very successfully due to Ms. Picken’s tenacity—everything from smaller one-off single properties, deal financing, leasing work, to an extremely complex deal involving 17 different parcels of land totalling over 1,000 acres sold to a single buyer that took more than a year to negotiate and complete.

We are extremely thrilled to have Ms. Picken as our sole real estate lawyer. This has allowed us to exercise efficiencies and cost savings, given that Ms. Picken can handle everything from acquisition to complex lease formulations through to dispositions.

Watson Properties has no reservations about recommending Ms. Picken and Lawrences as a whole. I would be happy to speak personally with anyone who would like to know more about how valuable they have been to me personally and to our Corporation.”

Cierra Watson
Watson Properties Since 1879 Limited
Executive Vice-President of Development and Acquisitions

In 1967, Relamping Services was founded in Brampton, Ontario. Throughout our business relationship, Lawrences Lawyers’ professionalism, confidentiality, and exceptional expertise in Corporate Law, Real Estate Law, and Estate Planning has allowed us to remain focused on the growth of our business. As fast as business decisions are made, Lawrences has been an ideal partner as our business has grown to a national lighting services company.

G. David Searle
Relamping Services Canada Limited

“We have been dealing with Heather Picken for our commercial condo development project and some other real estate acquisition transactions. Her knowledge, professional advice, and approach to client service has made this a great experience for us. Her pragmatic approach to tackling issues and her experience in dealing with many complex transactions are definite assets for clients entering into any real estate or other transactions.”

Satish Thakkar
Airport & Lacoste Developments Inc.

“Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP provided me with excellent legal services in my estate planning, real estate and litigation dealings. Their legal team provided me with integrated, seamless support in my real estate transactions and associated litigation when I needed it. It was a true team effort.”

Dr. Loris Gregoris

Professional Engineer

“As one of the larger non-profit organizations in Peel and an employer of over 300 staff, Brampton Caledon Community Living requires sound legal counsel on a range of issues. From real estate to employment law, Lawrences has provided us with professional and reliable service for over 15 years.”

Jim Triantafilou
Brampton Caledon Community Living
Executive Director

Mar 19, 2015 | Case Study

Breach of Agreement

The Problem Our client, a developer, had been sued by a corporation which claimed that our client had agreed to advance financing. The plaintiff co...

Mar 19, 2015 | Case Study

Failure to Pay Rent

The Problem We represented a commercial landlord whose tenant had failed to pay rent and left the leased premises in a damaged state. Our Approach ...

Mar 19, 2015 | Case Study

An Aborted Commercial Real Estate Transaction

The Problem Our client, the vendor of commercial property in an aborted real estate transaction, was sued by the purchaser for a return of the depo...

Mar 19, 2015 | Case Study

Land Development and Municipal Law

The Problem As part of its road infrastructure works program, a municipality wanted to close a significant portion of a municipal road on which our...

Mar 19, 2015 | Case Study

Buying a Residential Condominium Unit

The Problem Our clients are the parents of a student who plans to attend the University of Toronto in two years’ time. The parents wish to pu...

Mar 18, 2015 | Case Study

Real Estate Dispute Resolution–Expropriation

The Problem Our clients ran a small trucking company. The office and yard where they kept their trucks and equipment were conveniently located besi...

Mar 18, 2015 | Case Study

Condominium Development

The Problem We were retained by the owner of some land in Toronto to conduct the legal work necessary for developing the land as a commercial condo...

Mar 18, 2015 | Case Study

Cottage Purchase

The Problem We were retained by a client who had purchased a cottage in Muskoka, using the services of another lawyer. Our client planned to renova...

Mar 18, 2015 | Case Study

Condominium Governance

The Problem Our client, a residential Condominium Corporation, was owed unpaid common expenses on one of the condominium units. Despite many notice...

Mar 18, 2015 | Case Study

A Farm Sale to a Developer

The Problem A farming family that owned 150 acres of undeveloped land within the urban boundary of a municipality were constantly approached by rea...

Sep 15, 2015 | Article

Commercial Leases: Getting Rid of the Nightmare Tenant

A landlord's commercial tenant is habitually late with rent, makes partial payments, fails to make required repairs, and causes disruption to other...

Dec 01, 2014 | Article

Disputes Over Boundary Trees: Who Owns That Tree?

The saying that “good fences make good neighbours” may not extend to trees after a recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice d...

Oct 20, 2014 | Presentation

Title Insurance Myths

As a solicitor who has been practicing real estate law for over 10 years, I have noticed a marked shift in the way that real estate practitioners approach their role in residential real estate transactions. Many seasoned practitioners have commented to me that the introduction of title insurance and electronic registration in the Province of Ontario has led to less diligence on the part of many real estate practitioners. Indeed, I have been shocked by some of the comments made to me by junior real estate practitioners at other firms, leading me to agree with my seasoned cohorts.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight and dispel certain myths with respect to title insurance as it pertains to residential real estate transactions in the Province of Ontario. This paper will begin with a discussion of traditional off-title searches and a solicitor’s duty to advise clients about title insurance. Some of the benefits of a traditional solicitor’s opinion and the benefits of a title insurance policy will be reviewed. Items generally covered by title insurance will be discussed along with items which are typically not covered by title insurance. There will be a section on real estate fraud, and then a discussion of the various myths surrounding title insurance in residential real estate transactions. 

This paper is a general overview of title insurance and off-title searching. It is not an exhaustive treatise on the subject matter. Further, the policies issued by the various title insurers are similar, but have many differences. It is important to review the policy in detail to understand exactly what is, and what is not, covered.

Oct 01, 2014 | Article

Buying a Home From a Builder

Buying a new house, condominium or townhouse directly from the builder can be confusing, especially for a first-time purchaser. The builder will usually require you to sign the builder’s form of agreement of purchase and sale (the “Agreement”). Because these Agreements are lengthy and drafted strongly in the builder’s favour, it is very important to have a real estate lawyer review the Agreement before you sign it. You can make your purchase conditional on your solicitor’s review of the Agreement. This article outlines some of the issues with builder’s Agreements.

Dec 01, 2013 | Article

The Importance of Disclosure Documents in New Commercial Condominiums

Whether you are developing a commercial condominium or buying a unit within one, the condominium’s disclosure documents require careful attention, since they describe important features of the proposed condominium. Disputes can arise if buyer and seller do not clearly understand their obligations.

Apr 01, 2012 | Article

Selling Land: Verbal Agreements can be Enforced

Tom and Sally own neighbouring cottage properties on a lake shore. Tom sells his cottage property conditional upon the installation of a new septic system. However, he can’t install a new septic system without purchasing a portion of abutting lands from Sally. Tom and Sally exchange emails and have an oral discussion about the sale of a portion of Sally’s land at a purchase price to be paid at a later date. They sign an easement agreement so that Tom can have immediate access to the land, and a deed transferring a portion of Sally’s land to Tom so that Tom can apply for a permit to install a septic system. Subsequently, Tom incurs financial hardship and pays Sally only a portion of the agreed-upon purchase price. Can Sally enforce their agreement?

Dec 01, 2011 | Article

Expropriated: What to Do Before the Bulldozers Get to the Gate

Mike and Joe run a small trucking company. Their office and yard where they keep their trucks and equipment are conveniently located beside the highway. They have just leased part of their property to a neighbouring business for parking. This morning, their office administrator greets them at the door with a Notice of Expropriation from the Ministry of Transportation: the province is widening the highway. What now?

Oct 01, 2011 | Article

Condo Conversion: Not Just for Apartments

Ten years ago, Paul purchased a Brampton strip plaza of 30 small commercial stores. At first, the plaza vacancy rate was low, but increasingly he has had to deal with defaulting tenants and maintenance issues. Paul would like to retire and has considered selling the plaza, but his real estate agent says it will be difficult to find a buyer in these economic times.

Oct 01, 2010 | Article

Notice to Farmers and Developers of Farm Lands: The Bobolink

The bobolink, an Ontario bird that nests in hayfields, has been added to the list of threatened species under a new regulation of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act that came into effect on September 28, 2010. Since the bobolink and its habitat are now protected, this has implications for farmers and developers of farm lands. There are substantial fines and even jail terms for contravening the Act by disturbing the birds’ habitat.

Apr 01, 2010 | Article

The Standard Lease: How Much Protection Does It Really Provide?

Leases are a valuable form of protection—when properly drafted. Landlords run considerable risks if they rely on standard form leases, or if they enter into lease agreements without first obtaining legal advice. A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, Montgomery v. Van, highlights these risks.

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