Land Registration System in Ontario
Land registration systems are the means by which title to real property and documents affecting such title are recorded and notice of ownership and other interests in real property is made available to the public. Documents such as transfers of ownership in property, mortgages or other claims or liens against real property are registered with the relevant government authority for the public record. These registered documents are stored in land registration systems and are available to be searched to determine interests on title.
The original system of registering interests in land under the Registry Act (Ontario) dates from the late 1700s. In this system, registration of title or ownership in real property in Ontario is based on a registry system (the "Registry System") whereby all land registration documents are submitted to the Land Registrar and are recorded, in the order they were submitted, on the abstract for the geographic area they affect within a provincial Land Registry Office ("LRO") jurisdiction (usually a county or region within Ontario). In this system, the Province has custody of all original titles, document and plans and has the legal responsibility for security of all title information. The LRO that accepts the submitted documents does not guarantee the affect of such documents or title to properties. As a result, in order to arrive at a current determination of title to property in the Registry System, land registration documents must be searched to trace the history of prior transactions affecting the property. For determination of title, by law, all such documents registered in the Registry System during the 40 years preceding the date of a search must be examined. This procedure can be costly and time consuming if many documents have been registered during this period.
A second system of registering interests in land is the land titles system (the "Land Titles System"). In the Land Titles System, the Province has custody of all original titles, documents and plans and has the legal responsibility for the validity and security of all registered land title information. Once the property has been registered and certified, the Province guarantees the title to, and interests in, property. Since this record is updated each time a land registration document is registered, only a search of the current register of interests (and not all documents registered during the 40 preceding years) is required in order to ascertain title. By the 1980s, approximately half of the properties in Ontario were recorded under the Land Titles System, and at such time the Province decided to convert all remaining properties in the Registry System to the Land Titles System. As of March 2011, approximately 99.9% of properties in Ontario were recorded under the Land Titles System and had been automated from paper-based to electronic form.