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Once again, I’d like to chat about Property Rights… it’s one of my pet peeves…. I’m no expert… but it is important for people to know what rights they have when they purchase a property.
Ownership is the highest form of control one can exercise over any type of property, including intellectual property. Ownership in fact consists of a bundle of many rights that together comprise the concept of being an owner. For example, you can count on having the right to possess the property, use it, enjoy the property, mortgage it and to transfer or sell the ownership.
There are a variety of other rights- some that can be divided up by the owner and may result in a variety of different parties deriving particular rights in specified circumstances. Any number of variations that subdivide the bundle of owner rights are possible.
Real Estate value considers the combination of the tangible and intangible attributes of land, improvements and the rights that are or are not included.
When you purchase a property, ask which rights are included…. And they’re not just limited to the following list:
Shoreline & Road Allowance:
Most waterfront property in Ontario has a standard 66-foot Shoreline Reservation, unless otherwise transferred to the Deed. This part of the property is owned and controlled by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Usually, no permanent development or shoreline development is allowed on this reservation. In many cases the shoreline reservation may be purchased from the Ministry of Natural Resources. The purpose of a Shoreline Reservation is to preserve the natural habitats and environments of aquatic creatures, birds and plants.
If riparian rights are included it means that the owner of lands on the banks of watercourses are entitled to take advantageous use of the water on, under or adjacent to the land- including the right to acquire accretions (Slow addition to land by deposition of water-borne sediment), wharf slips and to fish there on.
Something outside of the property that belongs to the property and adjoins thereto and adds a greater enjoyment of the property- a right of way is a good example of this.
Mineral Rights & Surface Rights:
There are parcels of land in Ontario where landowners may own the surface rights but not the mineral rights in, on or below their land. The Ontario Mining Act provides a statutory right to stake mining claims on Crown mineral rights and to conduct assessment work on the mining claims even if the surface rights are privately owned.
Simply put, mining (mineral) rights are the rights to the minerals located in, on or under the land. Surface rights refer to any right of land that is not mining rights. The deeded property owner will have the legal right to walk & enjoy the surface of the property and to build or construct a dwelling on the surface of the property- subject to local regulations, of course.
Mineral Rights include all precious metals, ores, sand & gravel. When a Mining Company, Prospector or other Individual owns the mineral rights, they do not need the owner's permission to go on the property and do exploration work. The Mining Company, Prospector or other individual only needs to inform you in writing the day before of their intent to perform work.
If the deed says “All Mining Rights are Included” it means that the Property Owner owns the minerals above & below the surface.
This short video about Mineral Rights is well worth watching:
Timber rights reserved means that all the timber (trees) standing on the property are not included with the property. These trees are reserved to the Provincial Government- or to an individual. This includes all tree species except Pine trees. Although the Government owns the trees they do require the permission of the property owner to harvest those trees. If the property owner wishes to harvest the trees on the parcel, the owner must call the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources District Office for further details. A stumpage fee is owed to the Ministry of Natural Resources when harvested.
When timber rights are included, the property owner owns the trees- except the Pine- unless the deed states, “all pine rights are included”.
Pine trees are reserved to the Crown- meaning that all Pine trees standing on Ontario property are owned by the Provincial Government. The property owner does not own these trees. To harvest Pine trees you must contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The Pine rights can be purchased from the Government.
Here are a couple of sites that may be of interest:
The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP) is designed to recognize, encourage and support the long-term private stewardship of Ontario's provincially significant conservation lands by providing property tax relief to those landowners who agree to protect the natural heritage values of their property.
Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP)
The Ontario Landowners Association appears to be in favour of having the
Government cease the violation of property rights. Signs - seen all over the Ontario countryside, posted on farm gates, fences, and in fields- particularly in Eastern Ontario - shout: “This is our land. STOP. BACK OFF GOVERNMENT”. Their website is
what about water access without ownership when a hiway seperates your property from the lake. If there was a dock there already, why can’t I use it?
Note from Jody: Generally you can use the dock, best to check with your township and MNR, to be absolutely certain about any local by-laws.
What is the easiest way (on my computer) to find out who owns the mineral rights to my property? I own 3 lots(133 acres) in northern ontario and I think the mineral rights holder has let his ownership lapse because he has not spent any required time on the lots in the past 5 years! I would like to take any necessary steps to purchase the mineral rights. How do I find out who the holder is?,and how do I formally purchase these rights?
Kevin, search claimaps, answers can be found through MNDM for mining rights.pin
What happens when the gov. re-assess the riparian zone (say lake Huron water levels drop and expose 20m of new beach), where does the ownership of this “new land” lie? I would think it would go to those who own the land directly adjacent to the “new land"? Any information would be appreciated.
Hi Andrew: Andrew, you’re correct under the right circumstances although there is no reason for the gov’t to do anything for this to happen. Jody
I am considering purchasing a parcel of waterfront property. Years ago, there was a dam built at the end of the lake. 9 acres of deeded property was lost underwater as a result. The current owner claims that he’s allowed to do any work such as removal of some rocks on the shore and to some extent in the water since his property line is in the water. Is this true?
Mark, you could be right but not if there were flooding rights on the lake.
And everyone else who reads this 3 year old post but still has unanswered questions, many of them are easily answered; by your local surveyor.
Mark, you could be right but not if there were flooding rights on the lake.
And everyone else who reads this 3 year old post but still has unanswered questions, many of them are easily answered; by your local surveyor.
Note from Jody: Great advice, Gord. I have to tell you, I have answered this question, privately. I have heard of property where the survey line is now out in the middle of the lake. In that case, the owners were told they didn’t own the water, but owned the land under it.
what year did this 66ft distance come into law?
Hi Dale: This dates back to the original survey of the province, by the colonial government, in the 1800s.
Question…I have a friend who bought a parcel of land 5 yrs ago. He has recently been evicted from it given 2 months to remove his house and shed he build because land owner found out that he wasn’t able to severe it with the bank. He has purchase receipt and receipts showing he paid property taxes for past 5 yrs…..What are his rights
Gina… this is one for the lawyers, for sure!
I have purchased a waterfront property in northern Ontario (Kirkland area), which the water front itself extends past my lot and goes in front of two other peoples properties to my right and extends in front of another one to my left. can I stop them from continuously crossing over my property, setting fire pits, tents or placing waterlines across.
Hi Leo: my kneejerk response is that you would have to gate it off. I think you’d be best to speak to your lawyer about this one, too!
We own the waterfront of our neighbours cottage there is no shoreline reserve they harrass and use this property we pay mortgsge and taxes for had to be bought as parcel to acquire our waterfront they won’t buy from us what can we do to keep them off this property plus their waterlines its large 80 x 75 feet
Note from Jody:
You would have to gate it off. Talk to you lawyer about their waterline… a lot of it will have to do with how long it’s been there.
My husband and myself purchased a home on lake simcoe and were told by both our realtor and selling realtor that we had “deeded beach rights"? On closing day we found out that we indeed did not. Our lawyer told us that had to be written in our agreement (we did not know this). There is a walkway that neighbours use and we use however we do not have deeded beach rights? Or do we? If we decide to sell can we sell with deeded beach rights the same that the listing agent did? And is our home worth more money with/without the deeded beach rights?
Theresa…. how awful. Yes, of course a property with deeded beach rights is worth more than one without… I think you need to speak to your lawyer. Without knowing all of the details, it’s difficult to comment, but it sounds like misrepresentation on the part of the Sellers and also… maybe some negligence on the part of your realtor. YOU MUST DISCLOSE the fact that there are not deeded beach rights, should you decide to sell… unless, of course, you somehow secure rights in the meantime.
I recently purchased 5 acres in niagara region it was declared as partial wetlands and borders a manmade lake on west side owned by nieghbour.I have recieved a letter from mnr ontario staing that it is not wetlands because I questioned my first land assessment so I am fine with that.I want to knoe what my rights are regarding the lake on my west side my property starts about 3ft away from the lake and merges into it part way along the shore line my neighbour has decided to build up beside us with fill changing the gradient of his property towards the lake and us and he intends to fill the lake beside us so as he says he can access his llake without being on our land.Can he do this?Where my land toucheds the lake do I have any rights to the water or the lake.
Jim, you need to go speak to the municipality. Find out if there has been any study done on the potential risk of his plan and also, if he’s gotten permits. You might be wise to speak to a lawyer!
My wife and I are considering purchasing property in E-NE Ontario in the near future. Is it possible to buy acreage and clear area to build a farm using the existing timber, minerals (stone for walls and the like mainly but I wouldn’t toss a shiny nugget out if I found it.) and use of the water on or under the land?
Does the Crown reserve the right to deed or sell rights to land I purchase or is it possible to secure all of the land use rights with the purchase?
Hi Scott, every township has different rules and regulations. A lawyer can advise you on whether or not the mineral and timber rights are owned by someone else or if they’re included in your bundle of rights.
Looking to buy a piece of property in Northern Ontario. There is a
“Transfer of Flooding Rights” registered on the title. What does this mean.
Hi Seymour, Flooding rights have to do with a property that backs up water on another property. It sounds like an adjacent property owner (or maybe the township) may have the right to cause flooding to that property. Time to call a lawyer!!
25 years ago I provided deeded right of way across my land to neighbouring land locked summer cottages (3).
It was with the understanding the cottages would be summer use only and they are zoned Limited Service Residential. Two of the cottages have since changed ownership and they want year round access (I do not plow the l/2 km. laneway leading to the cottages in the winter.) Can I be forced to allow them winter access
other than by snowmobile? I am of the opinion they are not allowed to disturb any surface materials, which should include snow. Thanks for your response.
Hi Bill… have you given deeded access to these cottagers? If so, that may pose somewhat of an issue. Many landowners limit access by installing a locked gate but giving specific people a key. This means that they can’t gain unlimited access by virtue of continued use of the property. I don’t believe that you can be forced to provide year round access to these people, nor should you be responsible for snow removal! Of course, a lawyer will be able to give you the best advice, but I think that you need to consider a gate.
I own a small Island (cottage) property in ontario.
In the fall lots of cottagers from the mainland tow their docks over to the protected side of my island and tie them up for the winter.
They do not ask for permission, nor do they normally leave any indication as to who they are.
This year one group of mystery docks has a sign on it advertising winter storage of docks.
I think its pretty nervy of someone to take money from a cottager for storing their dock and then store it on my property without my permission.
It has been mentioned to me that these people may have a right to store their docks on my property because of the 66 foot road allowance, so they are not actually encroaching on my property.
What rights have I with respect to people storing their docks on my island property?
I very much look forward to your
Wow. I think it’s pretty nervy, too!
You need to contact your lawyer to find out if there is a shore/road allowance in effect at your property… and get some advice. I would also check with the local municipal office to find out if this sort of enterprise is permitted at the site.
It doesn’t sound kosher to me.
We have owned 300 acres south of Thunder Bay for 22 years. When first bought, our lawyers realized we didn’t have mineral/surface rights(our property is surveyed as a mining location) and we went through the process of obtaini ownership. We now find ourselves wanting to cut timber on our property and are being told by the MNR that we don’t have timber rights to our 300 acres. Shouldn’t our lawyers have noticed this at our time of purchase? There is talk that we are deemed a ‘nature reserve’ but we have never been told that as the owners of this property. Of course this is happening just before the holidays & the MNR is off until Jan 3, so the person we should contact is on holidays. We are livid that we have been told we don’t own our trees. Thank you for your time & our venue, Jen Evans
Hi Jen, I can understand why you would be upset about this… but you would have to ask your lawyer specifically about timber rights.
Hi Jay & Jen:
Unfortunately, 22 years ago the regulations surrounding the purchase and sale of property were very different and lawyers seldom conducted searches that included mineral/surface/mining/timber and other special rights… also, even if you have mining rights, I understand that you have to stake the claim and work the claim according to regulation, in order to keep it current. You would have to obtain a prospecting license in order to do this. In addition- If you are hearing rumblings that this property could be turned into a “nature reserve", you need to get some legal advice!
We bought property 5 years ago hrs to our closing our lawyer told us that the property we are buying with a house on it for 14 years has mineral rights to it what does this mean and can I get it lifted we were pretty much sitting in driveway with u hauls full.
Tina… call your lawyer. You need to find out if the mining claim is active and who owns the mineral rights. I have to tell you, it’s not uncommon to have someone own the mineral rights and it can be messy. Get some legal advice.
I am a residential property owner. The City of Hamilton is collecting the storm water run off from 22 acres of residential properties and allowing it to flow through my property. I do not have an easement on my property nor have I given the City permission to use my property to drain this storm water run off. Does the city have the right to do this? What are my property rights as a property owner?
Wow Mike… you need to check with your lawyer… they may have the right to take necessary measures during what they consider an emergency!
Around 1950 the government changed ownership of the beaches in Ont.. to the low water mark. does the ownership revert to the ownership of the upland adjactant?
You may find that the low watermark is still underwater… to be certain there would need to be a current survey, which would likely be costly!
I own 100 acres of vacant waterfront land but not timber and mineral rights. They are owned privately. I own the property and the surface rights. Timber owner wants to log the property. I have seen badly logged properties, much to my horror. Can I insist that the logger use Ministry guidelines to log my property, are there any other standards? Can I force him to go into a slash management agreement with me so that he must use a chipper and not make a mess on the surface and leave branches, tree tops (slash) and bits of logs strewn all over the place? Can I control his access and exit for I have several entrances? Does he need my written permission to go on my property. Can I control or limit the time of harvest so he does not create major ruts on existing roads and trails? How do I find a lawyer who understands this process to act on my behalf?
Timber and mineral rights have some serious implications. It’s kind of scary, last I heard they only need to provide you with written notice of their intentions- and that can be put in the windshield of your vehicle at the moment they arrive to start work! There are rules and regulations that these folks have to follow… but it depends on the nature of their licensing, etc. Check around locally, many communities have organized groups to deal with these issues and you’re likely better off with a local lawyer. It might be wise to contact FOCA they represent cottage associations: (705) 749-3622.
In 2006 we purchased a property that was severed from a camp. The original owner applied for the severance stating that the camp would be closed and used for residential/recreation. After we purchased, the owner kept his camp going on the piece of property he retained. Secondly, the driveway was divided into 5 pieces and we have ownership of 3 of these pieces. The owner has sold his property and now an even bigger camp operation has been created by the new owners. I want to fence off our property, including the portions of the driveway that are defined as ours. Can I do that? Can someone who varied the use (operate as a camp verses residential) from the original intent be denied access to the driveway portion that we own?
Ouch, Tom, I can only imagine that this would make things uncomfortable. You might be able to put up gates… but I would strongly suggest you get legal advice before you do that. Also, check with the local municipal offices to find out about land use and restrictions for the campground.
we have waterfront property on the Bruce peninsula- lake huron. Our next door neighbours are renting their cottage out full time in the summer months. The neighbours and since last summer now the weekly different renters constantly spend the day in front of our waterfront lot - with their cooler, chairs and have put their boat on top of our canoe. We have a nicer beach. We both own 100 ft. I have been asking the neighbours to use their own waterfront and to educate their renters on repsect for cottage owners. The cottage owner has told me that the renters can spend the day on my waterfront or any waterfront on our bay if they chose. Somehow I have lost the rights to my own property to strangers. I do not have a shore allowance across the front of my property - confirmed at the registry office. What can I do ? - post NO PARKING SIGNS - i know a person can walk along the shoreline but can they sit and spend the day if I ask them to leave?
Wow. I would think that you could post no trespassing signs, or put up a temporary fence of some kind… even a post with ropes. Naturally, I would suggest you speak to your lawyer.
I own waterfront property in Victoria Harbour, ON. I had a survey done of the property and at the time of the survey it was dry land. Over the past few years the water levels in Georgian Bay have risen to the point where approx 100ft of my property from the stakes in now under approx 1 ft of water. To I still own the property under the water and can I put a retaining wall up to re-claim the lost property? Also the people across the street are forever parking their boats in front of my property to the point where I have between 4-5 boats sitting in front of my home. Do I have any Riparian Rights to have them remove their boats to another location so I can enjoy the view of the water instead of their boats.
Hi Rick, Many people have their property lines now under water and in essence, you own the land but not the water. If they’re parking their boats, one might assume they’ve got some kind of anchor attached to your property and you might have a claim. Check with your lawyer.
One of the 22 members of a Home Owner’s Assoc. with jointly held Deeded Beach Access has decided they are in control of everything, and even though there is no Board, she has decided she is the President, and can make decisions unilaterally.
She wants to prohibit my deeded access to the beach, and will change the locks or do anything to stop me, because I have opted out of paying dues. She has harassed & harangued all the members & set a deadline before year end.
Can she deny access to deeded/titled property that is part of the deed to my house? She was asked to maintain the books, but was never voted in or anything. Thanks!
Time to look at the by-laws for the Home Association. This may require some research because many of these groups were set up very casually. Check with your local municipality. Look at your deed to make sure the access to the beach was properly recorded. It sounds like the property owners in the area need to seek legal counsel.
Our intention is to buy a cottage in Haliburton. This deal will be a private deal, without involvement of a real estate agent. The seller is in the process of having his lawyer do a title search on the cottage, and has told us that the hold up is waiting for ‘paperwork’ from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Our lending institution is getting impatient with us as they are wanting an approximate date of when this cottage will be sold to us. Can you provide some reasons as to why the MNR might need to be involved in the sale of a cottage? Thanks in advance
Richard, Have you asked the Sellers this question? Perhaps the MNR has some claim on the property and I would think it’s best for you to have your lawyer do the searches on the property. Ask to have the complete bundle of rights, including mineral, surface, mining, timber etc. investigated. The lawyer could also check for liens or work orders that the MNR might have attached for some kind of breach of regulations.
We have a private road that we all pay 200 road maintenance fees. One of the people in our block of land that hads deeded access to the lake refuses to pay road fees because they have a driveway on another road. They also have a culvert & a driveway on our road and use it for boat trailers, path etc. They recently purchased another lot that would be on our road again are saying nope not going to pay for that property either. They have put 2 large docks on the lake & BBQ, tables etc quite messy any suggestions? Do they have to pay the road fees? Are they able to take over a large part of the deeded access?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first complaint that I’ve heard about difficulties collecting for privately maintained roads. Unfortunately, many of these communities were not set up properly when developed. Often there’s no rules against putting temporary structures on a deeded access. You may want to talk to a lawyer about this. Find out if there are any real regulations and check into formalizing the community arrangements.
How does “deeded beach access” work?
I am in an area on lake simcoe with a gated beach for association members only. Do all the houses in the area HAVE to pay fees to maintain the property. What if some members don’t pay for various reasons?
Hi M… many of the developments on Simcoe were set up very loosely in the 40’s and 50’s… and there may not be anything legally regulating the community or community association. You need to ask for details on the Association… find out when it was set up, how it was set up and get copies of their articles of incorporation and rules and regulations. If they are set up as a not-for-profit, they will have by-laws. This may require some digging because many of these associations have changed hands over time.
Hi, I own a cottage in NWO on someone else’s land that I inherited from my parents. The cottage was built in 1952 with a handshake and $15 a year compensation by my grandfather with the father of the present owner. There was never a written lease and I am unsure if the property the cabin is built on was registered land at that time. When the son of the first owner took over the land the rent increased, and kept increasing, until last year when we said we felt it was excessive. He relented and then served us written notice (not from a lawyer) that he wants us to remove our improvements from his land in that he has other plans for it. I don’t believe our cottage is moveable, and if moveable, the road is overgrown with trees and unless many come down, it would be impossible. Do we have squatter’s rights? Do we have a 99 year lease based on the $15 and a hand shake?
Cindy… take your letter to a lawyer… this sounds messy. Squatters rights may not apply since you have been paying “rent” and I haven’t heard of a 99 year lease based on a handshake.
We own a house facing the Talbot River in Beaverton Ont. There is a Ministry right of way in front of us that of course is owned by the ministry. We want to put the house up for sale. Can we list it as being water front? Thanks
Hi Marlene… it’s unusual to hear that the ministry has a right of way… do you mean shore allowance? We have seen cases where there is an unopened (or unowned) shore allowance… and the property still is listed as “waterfront".
Our house faces the water at lock 38. the real estate claims we can not list it as waterfront because the front cannot be used to swim or launch a boat. Thank-you Marlene
I bought a small cottage to live in on a lake in Ontario, maintenance of the access road was by donation only when I first came in 1999 now I received a letter saying the fee has gone up to 250 per year and I am obligated legally to pay this…my question is am I legally obligated to pay this and how can they switch from donation to legal obligation so quickly
B….While there may not be any legal obligation to pay the road fees, if you don’t contribute to an otherwise unmaintained road, you may not have a road to access your property any more. Unfortunately, roads need maintenance… and obviously the “donation” thing has not been sufficient. This is, unfortunately, a fairly common issue when lots have been subdivided and sold without bringing the road up to municipal standards and therefore, the road is not maintained by the local authorities. In this case, somebody has to take care of the road.
You can check with the local municipal government to find out who, if anyone, owns the road… and what is required to bring it up to up to standard… but you’re likely to find that it is much more than the fee that has been requested.
Marlene, There may be a local real estate board by-law that prohibits listing the property as “waterfront". If you know the name of the local association, you can check with them to see if this is the case.
I own a waterfront cottage adjacent to a municipally owned road allowance. The municipality is clear that it is not an easement or a right of way for back property owners. Property owners at the back lots use the road allowance to access the water but it is not part of their deeds. They have also built docks on finger like land that was the result of dredging and abuts the road allowance. They have built all their docks on my side of the finger like land and their boats are docked in front of my cottage. Do I have any rights? The municipality does not want to assume responsibility for the finger like land structure or the removal of the docks. The MNRF do not want to deal with the docks. The owners of the docks have built on public land (crown land) without permission and it significantly affects my enjoyment of my waterfront property.
I have a question. I think that Jackson point is belongs to Georgina municipality. Many people complained of that problem: local residents installed sign “Private” on the beach and not allow to relax here. On my request show me a paper of ownership they answer - we don’t have to. On my request please call police (because I do not believe them) they did not do it. In my opinion, even if it is private you have the right to pass because it is located on the beach. And I do not see houses close to this beach, they are located 100 feet apart. Please send me your answer.
Thank you very much.
Many countries have the law: even if it is a private property, on the beach (lake, river, sea, or ocean) you have right to pass over and even to stay and relax here, I am not sure but,probably, 20-30 feet from the edge of the water line. How to find that these people are lying? Is it an offense to put sign “Private” on the land that is not belongs to you? Thank you.
P.S. It is located on the intersection Lake Dr. East and Brule Lakeway, far from the houses.
Hi Nikolai, This situation calls for visit to the local municipal offices. They should tell you who owns the property in question. It may well be privately owned and undeveloped- in which case, you are not permitted to trespass. The municipality will tell you if it’s crown land and if you are allowed to use it.
I have deeded access to our local lake along with a number of other home owners. They have a formed association that collects fees for these lands (they say it is to pay property tax so the city doesn’t regain the land) I have stated many of times to them that I do not want to be part of this and have no value in using the land in question. They have insisted on me paying dues to the point that now they are taking me to collections to get it. I have never signed any agreement saying I would be part of this. What are my rights? Can they force me into paying these fees? I’m not the only homeowner in this situation and we want them to stop and leave us alone. Any thoughts? Thanks!
It is best practice for me to tell you to speak to a lawyer about this. That said, I think you should stop into your local municipal offices and find out who actually owns the property over which you enjoy deeded access.
Check your deed to see how this access is worded. If it’s deeded access, someone has to own the property you’re entitled to cross.
There are a lot of subdivisions that were laid out in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s that had very loose arrangements and they included shared ownership in an access lot to the waterfront- in some cases, they never properly registered ownership of the roads or the path to the waterfront.
A lawyer could advise you, but you may get the answers you need, from municipal authorities.
I got this question via email: I was wondering if you could steer me in the right direction. There are 16 houses that have the same deeded access as we do in Omemee, Does one home owner have the right to put up a 24hr video surveillance without the permission of all other home owners?
I suggest you take a look at this site: https://www.ipc.on.ca/images/resources/video-e.pdf
I am in the middle of a Separation/Divorce, and have joint ownership with my ex on 100 acres. He has gotten it logged out, and what I am trying to find out is Shouldn’t the logging company have both of our signatures to say they can logged it out? I live in Ontario, and would greatly appreciate any help on this that is possible. Thanks!