Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh introduced legislation that would amend the Real Property Act to provide Manitobans with better protection from fraudulent real estate transactions. The legislation would also reduce the red tape and paperwork that businesses have to deal with in certain types of real estate transactions.
“Real estate fraud is a growing concern across Canada,” said Mackintosh. “It occurs when someone falsely claims ownership of a property and then sells that property to an unsuspecting buyer. The victims are the buyer, the actual legal owner and, under some circumstances, innocent parties drawn into financing a fraudulent transaction.”
The proposed amendments would streamline legal processes involved in correcting land titles, allowing timely decisions on whether an original owner or an innocent buyer should retain the title to the property and who would receive financial compensation for losses. Amendments would also allow those who suffer real estate fraud loss to claim compensation from the assurance fund immediately instead of first suing a wrongdoer and attempting debt collection. In return, the assurance fund would assume the right to collect from the wrongdoer.
The amendments would also tighten signature requirements for transfers of land and mortgages. These are legally complex documents and often involve what may be the largest money value deals for most people. While consumers need to do their part to be vigilant, the proposed rules would help protect property owners and lenders from predatory scam artists.
The complicated rules around when compensation may be claimed from the assurance fund would be simplified and replaced with a two-year time limit that starts when the claimant was aware or should have been aware of their loss.
Other proposed changes were the result of recommendations by the Manitoba Law Reform Commission and would allow landowners to reduce the paperwork and some of the complicated processes involved in sales of land subject to development schemes.
Proposed amendments would also allow the creation of true statutory easements, allowing for full recognition under federal law. These measures would be of benefit to development projects such as wind farms.
“Making these changes to reduce red tape in property development arrangements and modernizing the process for the establishment and conveying of statutory easements will reduce cost and complexity for businesses in Manitoba and will benefit our economy. ” said Mackintosh.
Proposed changes to the Real Property Amendment Act are part of Let’s Make a Better Deal, Manitoba’s five-year consumer protection strategy.