Why do you need to update a certificate of location?

Let’s say that you are selling your house and the last time you had a certificate of location done was 10 years ago. In the meantime, you’ve put in a pool, added a cabaña and a deck. These changes must be represented on the certificate in order for the title to be clear. This certificate of location will be transferred to the new owners.

Who’s job is it to pay for the land surveyor services for a certificate?

The Quebec by-laws state that any party may pay for it, whether it be the vendor or buyer. Typical practice is usually the vendor who pays for it. After all, the certificate is there as protection for the vendor.

There are a lot of things that may affect a change in the certificate of location:

  • Lines of electricity & telephone
  • Sewers, septic tanks and wells
  • Aqueducts
  • Changes in zoning and by-laws
  • Encroachments, such as renovations on the neighbour’s property
  • Environmental laws
  • Right of ways and illegal views

An original copy of the certificate of location is to be presented to the notary and possibly the hypothecary lender. The agent will always receive a copy for their records. The notary will do the title search closest to the signing date as possible. This will give the current owner time to rectify any business, such as a lean etc.

The certificate of location is a private document that is not registered and is of the opinion of a professional land surveyor. This document may be disputed in courts. Be prepared for a costly battle and to hire another professional land surveyor.

Irregular Certificate of Location

Deals don’t always go as planned. In fact I would easily say that at least 50% of them have a glitch. This is the story of a sale where the fence was 44cm off, inside the property line. When selling a house or buying, there are two very important documents needed. One being a clear title and the other being an up-to-date certificate of location. Without either of them, the sale won’t pass at the notary. Now, I’ve had situations where an agent would say, well it’s been ordered and since it won’t be ready in time for the sale, we’ll give it to you afterwards. I still haven’t found a notary that will pass a sale without one. Even with title insurance (that’s a whole other blog). So you need one.

The importance of the certification is this: It shows you exactly what you are buying, everything right and wrong about the property and where it all stands. Meaning you’ll find out about servitudes of view, right of ways for neighbours, utility company access, property lines, fences, bushes, where the house is situated and if anything is non-conforming. Non conforming could mean that the pool isn’t the right distance from the property line, or maybe the cabana is an inch on the neighbours property or the fence isn’t exactly on the property line.

This story is about a fence was off. So you may think no big deal? Think again.

For a lot of notaries, agents and buyers, we see a lot of fences that are not on the property line. In fact, it’s pretty normal. Is it an irregularity? And how off is considered an irregularity ? In the promise to purchase in clause 6.5 titled “Defect or Irregularity” it states: “Should the parties be notified before the signing of the act of sale, of any defect or irregularity whatsoever affecting the titles, or in the case of non-conformity with the guarantee of the SELLER contained herein, the SELLER shall, within 21 days following receipt of a written notice to that effect, notify the BUYER in writing, that he has remedied that defect or irregularity at his expense or that he is unable to remedy it.”

To summarize, if the buyer is not satisfied with the non-conformity of the certificate of location he/she may quit the deal by following the rules. So this is the story of my deal:

When the buyer’s received the certificate of location is was noticed that the fence was off a bit, within the property for sale. It was visually off on the layout and wasn’t stated in the text as to how much. They called the land surveyor and he said it was “about” 44cm. The buyers then called me and said that they wanted the fence moved to the property line because when they resale the property (they were flippers), that it may cause a problem. .

In the end, after hours spent on the telephone and email to notaries, surveyors, contractors and dealing with the buyers, we finally noticed a stake (in the tall grass) that was put there by a land surveyor (when the neighbour put in his pool) and realized the fence was only off by 1.5 inches. The land surveyor gave the wrong information over the phone. Luckily for us both parties came to an agreement.

Land Surveyors – Arpenteur-Géomètre

Benoît Péloquin

575, ave Marshall, bureau 101, Dorval, Qc H9P 1E1




Lawrence E. Rabin

61 Cedar, Ave Pointe-Claire, QC  H9S 4Y3




Groupe Civitas

1001 rue Lenoir, B116, Montréal, Q H4C 2Z6