By Garry Shapiro, BCL,LLB, MBA & Evan Shapiro, HBA, JD
The arrival of summertime means it’s cottage season. We can all imagine the picturesque water, crisp air and sunshine, surrounded by friends and family. But whether you own or dream of owning a cottage, it is important to understand the unique characteristics of owning rural properties.
Cottage ownership in a remote area can be extremely rewarding, provided you can access it by road or boat. Cottage owners should understand the nature of the roads leading to their property, including: a) whether the roads can be used year round or only in summertime; b) whether the road is maintained by the municipality or the individuals that use the road; c) who pays the cost of maintaining the road, including snow removal; and d) if there is a private right-of-way over another property.
SHORELINE ROAD ALLOWANCE
Many cottagers are surprised to discover that there is a 66-foot strip of land between their property and the water that they do not own. This can create two issues: a) other individuals may be entitled to travel across the property; and b) there may be a boathouse, deck or other structure built upon property which they do not own.
One of the most common issues affecting title of rural properties is the right of other individuals to travel across the subject property. There may be an easement providing a right-of-way or individuals may rely on the Road Access Act.
WELL WATER & POTABILITY
Many cottages obtain their water directly from wells. You will want to ensure that the water is safe to drink and that the system is able to provide a sufficient amount of water for household use.
Sewage & Septic TANKS
Cottage sewage and septic systems are sensitive to the ecosystem that they are part of. It is important to understand the capacity of the system and the types of products and chemicals that may be flushed.
Before purchasing a second property, there are several income tax issues that may affect the ownership of the property which should be discussed with an accountant.
Because of these issues, an offer to purchase rural property should include a condition that the agreement is subject to a lawyer’s review, as well as conditions for inspection of the property, the well water and septic system. No cottage owner wants to find out after the fact that there are laws or restrictions that affect the use of their property. Always consult with your Realtor, lawyer, and other professional advisors to properly understand your