Even though you are the owner of your property, at times it can feel as if you have the least amount of say over what you can do on the property you are paying for.
There are a lot of governing bodies that could have some say in how you use any land you purchase. It’s important you know all the players and what rules apply before you buy so you know what you can or can’t do with parcel you intend to purchase, especially if you are purchasing with a specific plan in mind.
Never assume you can do what you want with a property just because it is well suited for the use you have in mind. 100 acres may not be sub-dividable. A vacant lakeshore lot may not allow seasonal RV use and the small acreage you fall in love with may not allow you to have a hobby farm.
If you have a specific plan for what you want to do or create in the future let your real estate agent know so they can help you find the right fit. They may not be able to tell you for sure which properties will get approval for what you want to do but they will be able to help you narrow your search options and more than likely point you to who you can contact for clarification.
Every property is different and there is no rule of thumb such as size or location as to which of the following, if any, governances may apply to a particular parcel.
The following are some of the entities that place rules on properties. If a property you are interested in is affected by any of them it is good to know in advance of purchasing .
ALR (agriculture land reserve) – created to protect the preservation of agriculture land
Zoning – approved uses, set backs, etc.
OCP (official community plan) – long range vision for an area. Governing body uses this as a secondary guideline when considering special requests like subdivision requests or use approvals.
Subdivision – (can encompass a large area or just a few lots) May have a building scheme and or specific building guidelines to follow.
Charges on Title (Easement & right of ways) - specific area of the property designated for use /access for a specific purpose by another entity.
Strata - bare land, town home, apartment
Parks - manufactured home parks, RV parks
What can become very confusing is when the land of interest falls within multiple governances and some of the rules contradict each other. What then? Like all things in life, there is a hierarchy.
When in doubt ask! Do not rely on your realtor for this information. Check your-self directly with the local governing body (City, Village, Regional District) for clarification.
Be as clear as possible about “the what” and “why” of your questions. Clearly state what your future plan is for the property and be prepared to answer even more questions.
What may seem like a simple question that you just want a quick yes or no answer too is rarely as simple as that. They just about always want more details than what you are aware will be needed.
If you are given approval for something that is not already noted as allowable in any of the documentation you have and that approval is critical to your decision to purchase - get it in writing!