We were retained by a client who had purchased a cottage in Muskoka, using the services of another lawyer. Our client planned to renovate, extend and winterize the cottage, replace the dilapidated dock and boathouse, and do some landscaping. When she tried to implement these plans, she discovered numerous problems with her title and property and realized that her first lawyer had not conducted the investigations that are critical with the purchase of a cottage. She had no title insurance. The problems we needed to resolve were:
- No legal road access to the cottage
- No municipal zoning approval for year-round use
- Site setback problems for the addition she planned
- A dock and boathouse located within an unpurchased Crown reserve
- The updated plan of survey indicated that the neighbour’s garage encroached on her lands
We negotiated with our client’s neighbours to exchange the area of our client’s land where their garage encroached, for access rights across the neighbour’s property to our client’s lands. This required a plan of survey to describe these two parcels and an application to the Municipality’s Committee of Adjustment for a severance consent under the Planning Act as a property boundary realignment for the garage area, and an easement for the new driveway access. We also applied for rezoning approval to change limited seasonal use to annual use and a minor variance from the Committee of Adjustment for a reduced lot setback to allow for the planned addition. Finally, we processed the purchase of the Province’s Crown reserve along the lake frontage on behalf of our client and obtained permission from the local Conservation Authority so that our client could complete the construction of the replacement dock and boathouse.
We were successful in remediating all of these problems for our client. However, the client incurred many costs: Committee of Adjustment and rezoning application fees, purchase of the Crown reserve, a new survey, conveyancing registration fees, legal costs, and other disbursements. Had her first lawyer looked into these issues for her before closing, she might have decided to purchase elsewhere, significantly reduce her offering price, or negotiate costs with the Vendor.