When purchasing a resale cottage or chalet for personal use, there are several items that may not be readily apparent. The following checklist sets out some of the basic legal and other considerations that may affect your purchase:


  • Parties (who should be the purchaser - both spouses, an adult child with a life estate to parents, a corporation, a trust.?)
  • Property (best available description, preferably a survey attached AND specific reference to means of access to property - see item 2)
  • Price (should mortgage financing be a condition; vendor takes back mortgage?).
  • Closing Date (usually within 60 to 90 days after acceptance of offer and not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday). Also try to close Thursday or earlier in the week, not Friday.
  • Requisition Date (preferably not less than 45 days after acceptance, depending on Closing Date)
  • Irrevocable Date (how long should your offer be open for acceptance?)
  • Up to date survey prepared by qualified Ontario Land Surveyor showing all boundaries, existing buildings and other significant features (such as docks, pumphouses, boathouses, field bed, well, tennis courts, etc.). If vendors don't have one, you should budget to obtain one before closing.


  • Travelled municipally (possibly provincially) owned and maintained road?
  • Private right of way?
    • who is responsible for maintenance?
    • additional title search costs because entire right of way must be searched as well as property
  • Forced road (also called trespass or given road)?
    • who is responsible for maintenance?
    • Road Access Act provisions may apply
  • Year round or seasonal maintenance?
  • Any untravelled/unopened road allowances (including shore road allowances) adjoining or close by? These can be opened by the municipality to provide public access.
  • Water access only (e.g. island properties). Note mainland parking and docking requirement.


  • Does property front on directly on water or shore road allowance? If property fronts on shore road allowance, property is NOT a waterfront property
  • Water lot in front of property?
  • Docks and boathouses:
    • located on water lot?
    • located on shore road allowance? Could be encroachment
    • licensed by Province? Licence must be transferred to purchaser
  • Any shoreline improvements or land fill along shore? Could be encroachment
  • Any water courses (e.g. creeks, rivers) running through the property?


  • Electricity?
  • Water? If other than municipally supplied
    • acceptable quality? (analysis from local health unit)
    • sufficient quantity? (well driller's certificate)
  • Private sanitation system?
    • precise location of tank and field bed (where applicable)
    • certificate of approval
    • use permit
  • Telephone? (private or party line)
  • Garbage collection?
  • Snow plowing?
  • Cable television? (doubtful)
  • Postal service? (doubtful - regardless of location!)


  • Require reasonable access to property before closing (for inspections and water testing)
  • Warranties from vendor for water, sanitation system, appliances and pumps are working, no urea formaldehyde, outstanding work orders, deficiency notices and active files
  • What contents are included? Prepare a complete list and if appropriate allocate a portion of the purchase price to them. Provincial sales tax is no longer payable on contents, but HST is payable on the value of any boats included in the transaction.
  • Depending on vendor's use, goods and services tax may be payable. Always have GST included in the purchase price.
  • Insist on condition in your favour if you want to renovate or improve; build a deck or patio. Permits may NOT be readily available.
  • Zoning
    • seasonal residential (note restriction on services and use)
    • residential
  • Are there any registered or unregistered easements or rights of way affecting the property? (roads, driveways, paths, skidoo or hiking trails, hydro lines)
  • Restrictions and covenants that run with the land (the standard forms of agreement usually require a purchaser to accept these provided that they are complied with; so you should know what's in the covenant or subdivision agreement before you sign.).
With Compliments to Messrs. Miller, Thomson

Joel Kennedy

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