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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

The Land Titles Act, 2000 establishes the principles relating to title to land and the registration of changes of ownership and interests against the title.

Torrens System

The "Torrens" system of land registration is in effect in Saskatchewan. Under the Torrens system, once a title is issued, this title is proof of the registrant's ownership of land and the interests in the land.

Under property law in Saskatchewan, the term "land" includes everything fixed to the ground and everything above (e.g., trees) or below the surface of it (e.g., mines and minerals); not only the soil, but everything in it or on it. For example, ownership of an oil and gas lease is an interest in the land. Uncertified mineral titles are issued if the proper ownership of the minerals has not yet been established.

"Land" also includes the condominium units and common property included in a condominium plan. Condominium requirements are set out in The Condominium Property Act, 1993.

Registration

An application for registration must be made to the Registrar of Titles in the form provided in order to:

  • have a titled issued on the basis of a Crown grant;
  • register a transfer of title;
  • register an interest;
  • otherwise deal with a registered interest (e.g., by registration of an amendment, assignment or discharge);
  • file a document in the abstract directory;
  • register a judgment or maintenance order in the Land Titles Registry; or
  • add, change or remove information in the Land Titles Registry.

Ownership

The registered owner of land is the absolute owner. Separate titles are issued for mines and minerals which may or may not be owned by the owner of the title to the surface.

The owners of a particular parcel of land (surface or mineral), mineral commodity or condominium unit, and their ownership shares, are recorded in an ownership register. Titles are issued for every ownership share in an ownership record. Ownership of a parcel by two or more parties can be by a tenancy in common or by joint tenancy. Joint tenants are issued one title. Tenants in common are issued separate titles.

Every registered owner must be:

  • an individual;
  • the government of Canada or Saskatchewan;
  • a body corporate; or
  • an entity designated in the regulations.

Transfers of Titles

A registered owner may apply to the Registrar to transfer title to land. Registration of a transfer operates as an absolute transfer of the title. New titles are issued and any interest that was registered against the former title (e.g., liens or encumbrances) will be carried forward to the new title.

Estate Land

When a land owner dies, application must be made to the Registrar for transmission of the title into the name of the personal representative. The new title can then be transferred from the personal representative to the beneficiaries or a purchaser, as the case may be.

Registration of Interests

A title is subject to the interests (e.g. mortgage, lease, easement, builders' lien) properly registered against it. Every interest is recorded in an interest register which must include:

  • a record of the interest holders;
  • the address of each interest holder;
  • their respective shares in the interest; and
  • the other interests, titles or parcels affected by that interest.

Priority of Interests

If a transfer is registered or if different interests affecting the same land have been registered, they take priority according to the date and time of registration, not by the date of execution of the agreement (i.e., not by the date the land was purchased or the date of the mortgage).

Mortgages

Various rules of law are prescribed relating to mortgages. For example, a mortgage under the Act does not operate as a transfer of title but only as security. Under the Torrens system, a mortgage is a charge upon the mortgaged property (i.e., a charge that is registered to secure a debt against the land) and the mortgagor remains the legal owner.

After the discharge of a mortgage is registered, the mortgage is not enforceable against the land, whether or not the obligation under the mortgage continues to exist.

Special rules apply to a mortgage that provides for a revolving line of credit up to a specific principal amount. This type of mortgage will have priority in relation to subsequent instruments registered against a title to land, except builders' liens and personal property security notices.

Leases

Various rules of law are prescribed relating to leases. For example, a lease may provide that the lessee (tenant) has the right to purchase the land described in the lease. A lessor (registered owner) may bring an action for the recovery of land against a lessee in default, and a lessee may bring an action against the lessor for part performance.

Abstract Directory

The Act establishes an Abstract Directory to record information about land owned by the government of Saskatchewan but that is not titled. An application to file an interest in the Abstract Directory is made to the Registrar. The Directory is provided as an information service only and, unlike the Land Titles Registry, provides no guarantee and carries no liability on the part of the government with respect to that information.

Registrar's Powers

The Minister of Justice may appoint a Registrar of Titles who must be a lawyer and a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan.

The Registrar is responsible for:

  • the operation of the Land Titles Registry, the Grant Directory and the Abstract Directory;
  • approving or prohibiting registrations or the transfer of any interest against a title;
  • making corrections to the Land Titles Registry;
  • suspending land registry functions where it is not practical to provide them for a period of time;
  • hearing submissions with respect to the operation of the Land Titles Registry or the operation of the Act or Regulations; and
  • responding to claims for compensation.

Application to Court

Any person may apply to the Court of Queen's Bench for an order with respect to:

  • the operation of the Land Titles Registry; and
  • any decision of the Registrar.

The Registrar or any interested party may appeal a decision or order of the Court to the Court of Appeal on a question of law.

Saskatchewan Judgment Registry

The Judgment Registry consists of all judgments (court orders requiring the payment of a money judgment) and maintenance orders registered in the Judgment Registry.

Judgments and maintenance orders may be registered in the Land Titles Registry only after registration in the Judgment Registry. They may be registered against a title or interest by request or, in certain circumstances, automatically. Judgments and maintenance orders take effect in the Land Titles Registry as of the date they are registered on a title.

The Land Titles Registry, the Abstract Directory, the Grant Directory and the Judgment Registry are public registries of the people of Saskatchewan and any person can request a search of them.



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