Navigating Real Estate Legalities: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Engaging with Real Estate Lawyers

Real Estate Lawyer

By all accounts, the real estate market in the Niagara region is thriving. Even in these slightly uncertain economic times, the region saw 5,807 homes sold between January and November 2023, totaling over $254.3 million. In the same period, commercial real estate transactions in the GTA totaled over $5.4 billion.

Real estate transactions, whether buying, leasing, developing, or managing, involve significant sums of money. All parties to transactions attempt to protect their interests and maximize their investments in Ontario’s complex real estate framework. That’s where St. Catharines real estate lawyers come in. Find out how lawyers can streamline the process, advise you throughout the transaction, and protect your interests.

The Types of Real Estate Matters That Arise

Real estate is a broad subject that can involve the sale, purchase, leasing, and development of property. Matters such as inheritance and wills may also have a real estate component. Sometimes, real estate disputes may arise over competing rights to the property, use of land, boundary issues, and even tort claims.

One of the most common transactions is when a family purchases a house for their personal use. Another is a corporation renting space in a commercial building to operate its business. If, say, a restaurant wants to set up a seasonal patio, it may reach out to a real estate law firm for assistance with the STCPatio program.

Disputes related to real estate can arise, too. For example, a clinic could get into a dispute with other offices in the area about having the minimum number of parking spaces required, according to municipal by-laws. Another example could be an insolvency proceeding involving the Commercial List and Bankruptcy divisions of the Superior Court of Justice

of Ontario. Such a dispute can involve complex issues arising from partnership in a joint venture, the insolvency trustee, and other parties.

The Role of St. Catharines Real Estate Lawyers

The above examples should illustrate the myriad issues that fall under the umbrella of real estate. As such, the role of real estate lawyers varies according to the nature of the dispute, the surrounding legal issues, and the expertise you require. Based on that, lawyers will assist with:

  1. Legal advice: Advising you on your rights and responsibilities, the real estate process, and helping you make informed decisions.
  2. Drafting and Reviewing Contracts: Protecting your interests in leases, contracts, and other documents.
  3. Title Search and Due Diligence: Verifying the ownership of property, ensuring there are no liens on it, and identifying other issues with it, such as environmental notices.
  4. Representation: Representing you during negotiations and advancing your interests.
  5. Dispute Resolution: Representing you at mediation before tribunals and the courts.
  6. Closing Transactions: Handling the legal and financial aspects to ensure transactions are completed successfully.

Experienced real estate lawyers guide clients on a wide range of issues, including land use, land ownership, leasing, land development and subdivision, rezoning, and financing.

When Should You Engage a Real Estate Law Firm

People and businesses engage lawyers during the sale and purchase of properties. However, there are many situations in which residential real estate lawyers can help:

  1. Renting or leasing property.
  2. Resolving land disputes with co-owners or neighbours.
  3. Handling succession planning of personal property.
  4. Ensuring transmission of property to the executor or beneficiaries.

In addition to the matters above, here are a few situations when you should reach out to commercial real estate lawyers:

  1. Rezoning or facilitating land development.
  2. Resolving tenant-landlord issues.
  3. Conducting due diligence with regard to land investments.
  4. Refinancing commercial property.

What Is the Process of Real Estate Dispute Resolution?

The real estate dispute resolution process will vary depending on the nature of the dispute and your preferred outcomes. However, here’s a broad step-by-step explanation. Remember, to understand the next steps in your matter, speak to St. Catharines real estate lawyers.

  1. Identifying the dispute: The first step is identifying the nature of the dispute or what the dispute stems from. Examples, as we shared above, include disputes relating to land use, breach of contract, and landlord-tenant disagreements.
  2. Consulting a real estate law firm: Discuss the matter with experienced real estate lawyers in the Niagara region to understand the next steps.
  3. Reviewing relevant documents: Lawyers examine relevant documents, such as rental or purchase agreements, property deeds, and zoning by-laws.
  4. Negotiating informally: This is the first attempt to resolve the issue without resorting to a complex legal process.
  5. Mediation or arbitration: If the contract requires it or the parties mutually agree, the matter will be referred to mediation or arbitration. Depending on the nature of the agreement, the decision from an arbitral proceeding may be final.
  6. Landlord and Tenant Board: Rental disputes may be brought before the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, which rules on the issue.
  7. Filing a legal claim: For other matters, a civil claim can be filed before an Ontario court. Claims involving $35,000 or less will be decided by the Small Claims Court, while claims over that may be heard by the Superior Court of Justice.
  8. Discovery: This stage involves all parties to the claim exchanging information and documents they will be relying on during the proceedings. It may involve deposing those involved in the claim or relevant witnesses.
  9. Pre-trial motions and conferences: These are used to simplify and reduce the trial’s scope, determine the trial’s duration, and set timelines.
  10. Trial: If the matter is still not resolved, the case is heard by the courts. All parties to the claim can advance their claims to protect their interests.
  11. Judgment: Based on the evidence presented and the prevailing laws, the court decides the matter. Any party to the claim may appeal the decision to a higher court if it’s not satisfied with the outcome.
  12. Enforcement of judgment: This involves taking steps to ensure the court’s judgment is enforced and the parties abide by it.

Asserting Your Rights, Protecting Your Interests

Ontario has a complex set of laws governing real estate, its sale, leasing, development, and land use. That’s why you need to work with experienced real estate lawyers who can provide strategic advice and guide you to cost-efficient resolutions.

At Lancaster Chown & Welch LLP, we have helped shape the St. Catharines skyline for over 140 years. We are trusted representatives for homeowners, REITs, financing companies, and businesses alike. Talk to us about your matter, understand the next steps, and protect your investment.