Title insurance, which protects homeowners against losses related to their property’s title or ownership, has been widely embraced by real estate lawyers in Ontario, wrote Dale Smith in a recent Law Times article. The widespread adoption of title insurance has made life simpler for lawyers and improved the affordability of legal services for their clients.
“With that overriding protection that title insurance offers to my clients who are purchasing properties,” said Toronto lawyer Jeffrey Cowan, “There are a lot less ‘what ifs.’”
Prior to title insurance, real estate lawyers in Ontario had a duty to conduct searches of off-title matters that could affect their clients’ enjoyment and use of the property. These matters might include survey errors, encroachment issues, and unknown property defects, all of which are now covered by title insurance.
Title insurance also protects against title and mortgage fraud, back taxes attached to a property after sale, and existing liens against a title.
“All of the off-title searches that we used to have to do in the old days are kind of moot, although we still do them if we’re requested to do them or if we have any questions as to the title of the property and we feel it prudent to do so,” Cowan explained.
By reducing lawyers’ workloads, title insurance translates to savings for clients. Mark Morris, another lawyer from Toronto, described to Smith how a lost mortgage discharge cheque for almost $760,000 was handled by an insurer rather than through legal mechanisms.
“The purchaser lawyer now has to theoretically go ahead and sue me,” Morris said. “They don’t need to with title insurance. That part of the process has been transferred over to another body that will deal with it, and the real estate lawyer … can move on with their life.”
Of course, not all real estate lawyers in Ontario are fully enamored with this new way of conducting business. Sole practitioner Leslie Kirk of Ottawa told Smith that title insurance tends to complicate matters.
“The search requirements and the exact wording of the policies get changed every once in a while, so you don’t know what’s up with it,” Kirk said. “I personally find it difficult to keep up with.”
Though not unanimously adorned, many real estate lawyers in Ontario believe title insurance benefits everyone involved in real estate transactions, including clients.
If you are interested in buying, selling or leasing a home in the Greater Toronto Area, or have questions about title insurance, contact the experienced real estate lawyers at Nanda & Associate today to learn how we can help. Our team has years of experience assisting clients and establishing long-standing, trusting relationships.