About the Land Registration Act and it’s Role

1. What is the Land Registration Act?

The Land Registration Act (LRA) is provincial legislation that received Royal Assent in June 2001 as “An Act to Provide for the Registration of Title to Land and to Amend Certain Statutes Respecting Real Property”.

2. What is the most profound impact of this new legislation?

Once a parcel of land has been migrated to the new system the government guarantees ownership of that land. Instead of a lawyer having to search the title of the property back forty plus years, an electronic search quickly reveals registered and recorded interests. In effect, “a curtain is drawn across the past once the parcel is registered under the LRA”¹

¹Education Materials Land Registration Act Education Program

3. When does the Land Registration Act affect me?

The rollout schedule of the new land registration system is as follows:

Colchester County March 23, 2003
Antigonish, Cumberland and Pictou Counties December 1, 2003
Annapolis, Digby, Hants and Kings Counties March 1, 2004
Halifax County December 1, 2004
Cape Breton, Guysborough, Inverness,
Richmond and Victoria Counties March 1, 2005
Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne
and Yarmouth Counties March 1, 2005

4. What is the purpose of the Land Registration Act?

The LRA is the law that will modernize Nova Scotia’s land registries that were established more that 250 years ago. The present paper system (Registry of Deeds) is in the process of being converted to an electronic system that can then be accessed remotely. The new system is expected to provide certainty in ownership of interests in land, simplify proof of ownership, and facilitate property transfers. The LRA also provide compensation where an individual sustains a loss through registration.

5. Which ownership rights are guaranteed under the Land Registration Act?

The system guarantees three types of registered ownership:

  • a fee simple estate,
  • a life estate and the remainder interests, and
  • an interest of Her Majesty, see section 17.

All other interests are recorded which does not guarantee ownership.

6. What is the difference between registered and recorded?

Registration confers ownership whereas recording only confirms priority; there is no government guarantee for recorded interests. Any interest in a parcel of land that is not a fee simple, life estate and remainder, or an interest of Her Majesty, is only recorded. For example: mortgages and other security instruments are recorded and the order of recording determines priority amongst the security holders. Other recorded interests include: those of a trustee, a tax sale recipient, a lessee (not an exhaustive list).

7. Who is a registered owner and what does that mean?

A registered owner is an individual who has gone through the process of registering their interest in a parcel of land under the LRA. Section 20 of the LRA states that the registered owner of a registered interest is guaranteed by the system to be the owner of that interest, subject to such discrepancies in location, boundaries and extent of the parcel.

8. Are boundaries and location guaranteed under the new system?

No, section 21 of the LRA states that boundaries and locations are not guaranteed. What is being guaranteed under the LRA is ownership. After a parcel is registered in the land registration system, the nature of the owner’s interest will no longer be subject to dispute.

9. What do I need to have boundaries and locations guaranteed?

In order to have guaranteed boundaries and locations the property owner should have a plan of survey prepared by a Nova Scotia Land Surveyor. A certified plan of survey defines the nature, location and extent of boundaries of real property.

10. What is the benefit to registration and why would I voluntarily register?

Once an interest is registered there is no longer any dispute as to who owns that parcel of land.

Advantages include:

  • Avoiding time delays in closing; registration should be done before a sale, thereby simplifying the sale process;
  • Adding value to the property, once a property has been migrated a potential buyer knows that ownership is guaranteed, as well as knowing that the cost of registration has been borne by the seller;
  • If there are any concerns about someone gaining an interest in a parcel of land through possession, the process of migration extinguishes ripening possessory interests before they mature.