When looking to purchase a property, it is a good idea to inquire if permits and inspections were completed on previous renovations.
When selling a property, it may be in the seller’s interest to verify that all permits and inspections on previous work have been completed, as this may delay a potential sale.
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The Town does not issue Real Property Reports. A Real Property Report (RPR) is a schematic diagram recently prepared (within 90 days or less) by a Certified Alberta Land Surveyor which shows:
- The legal description of the property;
- Dimensions and directions of all property boundaries;
- Designation of adjacent properties, roads, lanes;
- Location and description of all relevant improvements situated on the property including dimensions and distances from the property boundaries;
- Right-of-way or easements as noted on the title to the property at the date of the survey;
- Location and dimension of any visible encroachments onto, or off of the property; and
- Certification with the surveyor's seal.
Why are RPRs needed?
They are a common requirement in the sale of real estate. If you are selling your property through a Realtor, the contract that you will likely sign will be a standard AREA (Alberta Real Estate Association) contract. In some cases, this standard contract will require a seller to provide a Real Property Report reflecting the current state of improvements on the land and evidence of municipal compliance (or legal non-conformance).
In the Town of Westlock, this "evidence of compliance" is provided by a Compliance Certificate (see above) which is issued by Planning & Development Services.
How to obtain a Real Property Report
If you need a Real Property Report or Survey Plan or need one updated, contact a registered Alberta Land Surveyor. There is a charge for this service and you are advised to shop around, as rates vary. The Town does not recommend nor endorse any private surveying companies.
Many people think they can walk around their property and thereby be certain that everything is compliant. They say: my garage is within the fence line, so all is good. Or: my fence has been there for 10 years, and nobody has complained. Later it is determined that the fence line was built 5 inches over on the neighbour's property. This could also mean that your garage is, in reality, partially on their property.
This is an unfortunate situation, that, if not discovered and corrected, could cause a sale collapse, and could potentially open the seller up to legal liability. A fence could be expensive and time-consuming to move, but moving or correcting the garage could very easily end up being a massive cost. Many other situations can be just as troublesome, such as structures built on a Town utility right-of-way.
A Compliance Certificate is a report from the Town of Westlock confirming that all buildings and structures on a property have met the regulations under the Land Use Bylaw and have appropriate Development Permits.
A Compliance Certificate is not a legislative requirement, but rather a service provided by the Town of Westlock. The Town does not require you to get a Compliance Certificate.
More information about Compliance Certificates can be found here.
An encroachment is loosely defined as being any portion of a building, fence, driveway, retaining wall or other structure which extends onto Town property.
Encroachments are sometimes discovered when a property is being sold. Usually, either the real estate purchasing contract or the lending institution has a clause in its contract that requires the seller to provide a guarantee that any structures encroaching upon easements, utility rights-of-way, or adjacent public lands have been approved by the Town.
What are the options for encroachments?
- Minor encroachments are usually allowed to remain as built with an Encroachment Agreement in effect, however, the Town may place conditions on any future alterations to them.
- If any encroaching structure is deemed to be causing a safety hazard or interfering with the maintenance of a utility, the Town will require it to be removed, at the owner's cost.
What is an Encroachment Agreement?
An Encroachment Agreement is a written confirmation between the Town and an owner of a property that allows a structure that extends onto Town or public property to remain in place.
The Town of Westlock offers a File Search Service. You can request a file search by providing a letter detailing the information you require along with landowner authorization.
Please note: Access to some Town records may fall under the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act. These include (but not limited to):
- Environmental and Geotechnical Reports/Assessments
- Emergency responses or municipal bylaw violations relating to spills and unauthorized releases or the release of controlled substances
Access to these records can NOT be included in your File Search Request.
Additional questions can be directed to the Town’s FOIP Coordinator at 780-349-4444.
Third-party home inspections are different from Town Safety Codes Inspections. Safety Codes officers ensure that the minimum safety standards of construction are met. A third-party home inspection is conducted by a private company not affiliated with The Town. This inspection is typically requested by the prospective home buyer and is an overall non-invasive inspection to determine the condition of the house.
While a third-party home inspection may reveal information that is valuable in making your decision to purchase a property, it does not ensure there are no hidden issues. A non-invasive inspection may not determine the condition of any work which is concealed.
The Town does not make recommendations for third-party home inspection services. You can find them by searching local listings or asking for recommendations in the community.