Own Land in Ontario? December 10, 2018 is the Deadline to Register Your Interest

In December 2016, new obligations were imposed via amendments to the Ontario Business Corporations Act (the “OBCA“) and other Acts.

The changes cover both existing and newly incorporated corporations. The obligations already apply to all Ontario corporations incorporated after December 10, 2016. However Ontario corporations incorporated before December 10, 2016 were given a two-year grace period that ends today December 10, 2018.

Under the changes, the register of a corporation’s ownership interests in land in Ontario must:

  • identify each property owned by the company;
  • be kept at the company’s registered office; and
  • show the date the company purchased the property, and the date it disposed of the property, if applicable.

I’ve been advised that since the act doesn’t define “ownership interest”, companies should keep the required information for both registered interests and their beneficial interests in Ontario property.

The changes to the OBCA also require that the register contain any deeds, transfers or similar documents that contain any of the following:

  • the municipal address;
  • the Registry or Land Titles Division and the property identifier number (PIN);
  • the legal description; and
  • the assessment roll number.

Fines and other penalties for not maintaining these records for individual officers and directors could be up to $2,000, and jail time of up to one year. Corporation could be liable for fines up to $25,000.

Additionally, if a company isn’t current with their record-keeping requirements, the company may be unable to state that they are compliant with all applicable laws when it comes to financing, obtaining insurance or a sale. Corporate purchasers of land in Ontario are advised to obtain a rep and warrant from the vendor of compliance to the amendments and to add the need for the register to their purchase documentation checklist.

BC’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act

The following is an article by two lawyers at BLG in Vancouver, reprinted with their permission. Where I have added commentary I start with my initials “PDM:”

The speculation and vacancy tax is different from the City of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax, which is a municipal levy. If you own residential property in Vancouver, you may have to pay both taxes.

The provincial tax affects property in the following areas, according to the government website:

Reserve lands, treaty lands and lands of self-governing Indigenous Nations are not part of the taxable regions.

Islands that are accessible only by air or water are not part of the taxable regions.

Some residential properties are excluded from the speculation and vacancy tax, even though they are located within a taxable region. These include residential properties owned by:

  • an Indigenous Nation
  • municipalities, regional districts, governments and other public bodies
  • registered charities
  • housing co-ops
  • certain not-for-profit organizations

Here is the BLG article:

A new Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act was recently passed by the B.C. legislature and received Royal Assent on November 27, 2018. The new tax is an annual tax on residential property located within B.C.’s major urban centres. Don’t let the name fool you — the tax is more of a vacancy tax on underutilized properties than it is about speculation. Accordingly, those that do not consider themselves speculators may still be subject to the tax. Foreign owners and individuals living in B.C. but with a spouse working abroad are also targeted.

Property owners within the City of Vancouver may already be familiar with the city’s empty homes tax. These property owners should not expect uniformity between the two tax regimes; these are distinct taxes enacted by separate laws, each with its own distinct exemptions and requirements. Being exempt from one does not necessarily mean that you will be exempt from the other.

PDM: As I note above, property owners in the City of Vancouver may face both taxes.

We outline some key information below.

Deadline for new property declaration

Property owners will have to make an annual declaration with the first being due by March 31, 2019 in respect of the 2018 calendar year. If any speculation and vacancy tax is owing, payment will be due by July 2, 2019.

PDM: This is the date property taxes are also due.

The declaration can be completed online or over the phone. The registration system is expected to open on January 18, 2019.

PDM: Here is the link to the Declaration. It is exceptionally important to note that all residential property owners in areas affected by the tax will receive an annual declaration form from the government (estimated to be in mid-February), and all owners will be required to complete the form, whether or not they may be subject to the tax.

Foreign owners and satellite families

One of the province’s purported tax target is foreign owners and satellite families. Foreign owners are property owners who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. A satellite family is an individual, together with his or her spouse, who do not report a majority of their income on a Canadian tax return.

If you have a spouse who lives, works and pays tax in a jurisdiction outside of Canada, you will need to carefully consider these rules; their application will result in stricter conditions to claim exemptions and higher tax rates on vacant property.

Ownership structure

Where there are multiple owners on title, each owner will be required to file a property declaration.

Where the owner is a corporation, a partner of a partnership or a trustee of a trust, you will need to look through these entities and carefully consider the individual(s) that have the ultimate interest or control in the property. If any such individual(s) is a foreign owner or member of a satellite family, this will have implications for claiming exemptions and on the tax rate you pay. Even where such an individual resides within Canada but outside of B.C., this may jeopardize the availability of certain exemptions.

PDM: Previously, the BC Government enacted a new regulation pertaining to the disclosure of Beneficial Ownership of Real Property. You can read more about it in our article via this LINK

Tax rates

All owners of vacant properties, regardless of residency or citizenship, will pay tax at a rate of 0.5 per cent for the 2018 calendar year.

Beginning in 2019, the tax rate on vacant property is 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents and Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Foreign owners and members of satellite families pay a 2 per cent rate.

The tax is calculated as a proportion of the assessed value of the property, which can be determined by searching your address on the  B.C. Assessment website.


All owners of residential property within a specified region will pay the speculation and vacancy tax unless an exemption can be claimed. There are a number of exemptions available, each which require specific conditions to be met. The most common exemptions will include where a property was used as a principal residence, was rented out to a tenant (note that short-term rental arrangements do not qualify), where construction of a new home or substantial renovations were carried out, or where the property was acquired within the year.

The specific requirements for each exemption should be carefully considered with special attention being paid to defined terms and interpretive rules. This is especially true where the owner includes a corporation, partnership or trust, or where any foreign owners, members of satellite families or non-B.C. residents are involved.

PDM: Please consult a competent real estate lawyer, such as the authors of this article (below).

Tax credits

Those that must pay the speculation and vacancy tax may be able to claim a tax credit on any income they have in B.C.


Scott Gorski                          Peter J. Glowacki
SGorski@blg.com                   PGlowacki@blg.com
604.640.4031                          604.632.3507


Tim Down and I wrote an excellent ebook called How to Successfully Appeal Your BC Property Assessment. It is specifically for residential property owners in BC.

In it we show you how the assessment process works, how you can research if you should appeal your assessment, how to craft your submission so you have the highest probability of success and how to present that submission. All in a proven step by step format that I have personally used to save hundreds of dollars in my own residential property tax.

You can find it HERE.


We Love Satisfied Clients

We regularly receive exceptionally positive comments from clients and we take great satisfaction in assisting our clients of all sizes with their commercial real estate needs. Here is an example of a recommendation we received from an occupier who faced a major lease problem that could have cost him his business as well as his personal wealth:

Peter Morris solved a huge real estate lease issue that could have cost me my chiropractic practice. Not only did he resolve the issue and save me money in doing so; he was also able to get me a much better lease by advising me to ask for over 200 changes to the landlord’s standard lease. These were changes I didn’t even know I could request. I know that over the life of this new lease I will not only save money but the risks in the lease the landlord wanted me to take on have been reduced.

If you are attempting to negotiate a lease, renegotiating a lease or an extension or have a lease related problem you owe it to yourself to contact Peter Morris first.”      Dr. Rob Rosborough, B.Sc D.C.  

One aspect that struck us is our client didn’t know what he didn’t know. We hear this every day. There are literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the same situation.

Ideally, an occupier should talk to us BEFORE entering into a lease; but we can assist you as an issue arises just as we did for Dr. Rob.

The Harvard Death of Real Estate Leasing?

Harvard death n. a death which occurs despite all symptoms being treated successfully or all medical test results appearing normal. Editorial Note: This term is often explained to mean “the operation was successful but the patient died.” (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)


Most real estate leasing is borne of experience rather than preemptive learning. There are no university courses specifically dedicated to distilling the knowledge that is gained from the leasing experience.


Let me qualify that. There are courses that outline the financial analysis of a lease transaction, how space is measured and tenant retention, etc. But none have been found to date that explains how to maximize the outcome for the landlord or tenant, depending on the perspective.


The operation or mechanics of leasing can be perceived as successful, but the opportunity for value can die. The difference between a successfully completed lease transaction and a successful lease being completed is based on the experience and understanding of the process and the nuances of the transaction.


There are 5 required components to a successful negotiation. Those are:

  1. Experience
  2. Aspiration
  3. Criteria
  4. An Exchange of Value
  5. Leverage


To be successful, every lease negotiation must contain all five. However, because each component is interrelated to the others, the successful negotiator needs to master all five aspects and intuitively balance each during the leasing process.


In addition, the mutual understanding and final documentation must be precise, concise, and clear.


These aspects of real estate leasing are rarely taught or understood; partially because of the lack of formalized learning in this area. As a result, additional value is often missed.


If your organization would like to learn how to implement the five components in order to drive value, please contact me.