|By-Laws and You|
By: Jayson Schwarz
Cities pass by-laws for all kinds of things and to achieve all kinds of purposes. A by-law is a law passed by a municipality to create the rules under which it will operate. As an example one kind of by-law is a zoning by-law. These are laws that regulate land use within the municipal boundaries. In other words as an example: what will the city allow a on this lot, a house, a factory or a high rise condo building? The City uses zoning by-laws to execute its land use planning intentions.
When buying a resale home there are many things to check out, zoning and other city by-laws are among those things. What does that mean? What if that beautiful deck in the back yard was constructed without a building permit? What if you want to build an extension?
In both cases by-laws will have a significant impact. In the first you amy end up with an Order that the deck be removed after you buy and in the second you may be prevented from putting on the extension because it may be to close to the lot setbacks or maximum coverage. The next and most obvious question must then be, how do I protect myself?
One way is through the survey: when you make the offer make sure it says “current survey, or survey showing all structures on the property to be provided by vendor”. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is covered by title insurance because it still doesn’t solve all of the problems. Check to determine on the survey whether the structures on the poperty are on the survey. If not you will need to find out whether they were leagally constructed. Then ensure your lawyer speaks to you about you want to do with the property before the offer is final.
This is extremely serious, I once had a dentist come to me after he had seen another lawyer and had purchased a condominium which he thought he could use for his practice. It turned out that although it was zoned commercial a dental office was not allowed. It took months and many thousands of dollars to sort out the mess.
One of the best things to do when purchasing a resale home is to go to the City zoning department and ask to purchase the zoning by-law. You can study your area and the particular zoning requirements that apply to the property you are purchasing.
What happens if you encounter a zoning issue and want to overcome it? Normally and providing the issue can be resolved through a variation minor in nature an application can be made to the local Committee of Adjustments and the Committee is empowered in law to grant variances minor in nature.
Jayson Schwarz is a Toronto Real Estate Lawyer.
Good luck and happy home hunting!!!!!!!!!!!!