By: Katie Rennie

 

The Title Search Date is the date by which the buyer’s lawyer has to notify the seller’s lawyer of any obstacles or impediments to closing. The date is usually set two to three weeks before closing in order to allow time to resolve the outstanding issues.

99.9% of the time this date is totally perfunctory.

In our experience, the other 0.1% of the time the issue is open building permits. We have had 3 instances of this issue over the years, and it is HUGELY stressful for the sellers. These were sellers who were savvy and detail oriented, working with established contractors, it’s not that people are sloppy and just let things slide.

Having been exposed to our clients’ experiences benefitted me personally. We did extensive work on our home which included taking off the roof, adding a third floor, and gutting the second. The project had started in May of 2014 and was 95% finished by the next April.

In June 2015, I called the City to ensure that our permits were closed and the papers could be taken out of our window. Needless to say, the permits were still open. My stress went ever higher when told that the inspector assigned to our house had retired in March so would not be able to provide any confirmation of the work meeting code. Add to that, our contractor had moved on to other jobs and pretty much abandoned the last 5% of the work at our house so I was VERY nervous he wouldn’t respond to my voicemail asking for his help in closing the permits. I feel very lucky that with his help the permits were closed.

Like our three sets of clients who found themselves with open permits, I thought that the contractor would ensure the files were closed. But, thinking back on it, that arrangement was never discussed. So, our advice to you is the following:

1: If you are starting a renovation project, discuss who will ensure that permits are closed

2: If you are wrapping up a project, ensure that the contractor is following up with the permitting process and has the permits closed

3: If you finished a renovation last year, or 5 or 20 years ago, check with the Building Permits office and see if any permits for your address remain open. It might be a little nerve wracking but going through these paces now will ensure a smooth closing on your home when it is time to sell.

Now you’re thinking, that’s great Katie, but how do we deal with this.

Firstly, you go to Toronto.ca and check if there are an open permits associated with your address: app/Toronto.ca/ApplicationStatus.

If there is/are open permit(s)

  1. Request information on the property and obtain the relevant open permit number/s. Click HERE.
  2. Ensure that the relevant issued/stamped permit plans are in hand.
    1. If the owner does not have the plans then they will need to visit City Hall – Building Archives and request copies of the relevant plans (There may be several plans – Building Permit, HVAC Permit – Plumbing and Drain permits do not have plans attached to the permits only a plumbing Data sheet which is also required).
  3. Book an inspection under EACH permit (if they have the same number then an inspection request is required for all open permits – i.e.: Building and HVAC may have the same number but require separate requests. For example, 18 123456 BLD 00 SR  is the building permit, 18 123456 HVA 00 MS is the mechanical/HVAC permit so a request is required for BOTH.
  1. To book an inspection:

  Request a Building Inspection Online

Please Note: You must click on Terms of Use to proceed to the next window. 

  1. Once the request comes up in their system the inspector will call that day or the next to book a time to meet someone on site and review the permit status and status of the building. At that point IF everything is in order then the permit can be closed, if further inspections, work or reports are required then we can discuss at that point on how to proceed.
  2. Note: This is not usually a fast process and can take weeks to complete for old permits not currently being constructed and inspected. Should someone be looking to sell their property I strongly advise starting this process PRIOR to listing their property.