Teraview tip: Is searching by municipal address getting you the right property?
Do you search by municipal address when using Teraview software? LAWPRO defence counsel have reported seeing construction liens filed on the wrong property where lawyers solely relied on municipal addresses.
Note that Teraview presents you with an onscreen caution that “Addresses are approximate.” It is the legal description that determines which property is being impacted. Of course, prior to electronic land registration, all searches were conducted based on the legal description. This helped ensure that you were reviewing the title of the property you were intending to deal with on a real estate deal, financing or construction lien.
Teraview software has made performing searches using the owner’s name, municipal address, PIN and roll number possible. This can help speed up your title search. However, it is still necessary to confirm that the legal description obtained (plan, or metes and bounds) properly reflects the property in question. Of course, an up-to-date survey with boundaries and structures identified is the best evidence of the extent of the property being affected. However, many clients may not have a survey. In those cases, reviewing relevant documents and questioning clients about their understanding of the property details can help ensure you are looking at the correct and entire property in the Teraview system.
This is particularly important for condominiums. For example, a search of the municipal address may reveal the dwelling unit, but not always the parking and/or storage units. In other cases, it might
reveal one unit, but not an additional unit with which it was merged to create the premises the client is enjoying. Over the years (even apart from this searching issue) we have seen claims where people got the wrong storage unit and even the wrong residential unit in a condominium. We have also seen claims where the purchaser got the wrong house on a street.
Be careful: search and reference tools created by technology may make searching easier, but they can never replace the attention to detail a lawyer can provide.
This article appeared in the June 2014 issue of LAWPRO Magazine.