New Registry of Deeds Act – Newfoundland & Labrador

June 24, 2009

Bill 21, an Act respecting the Registration of Deeds and other documents (the “Act”) has received Royal Assent and is anticipated to be proclaimed in the near future. The Act will make substantial changes to the current real estate practice in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The following is a brief summary of some of the highlights of the new legislation. For a more extensive explanation of the Act and its effects please see the text of the Act and consult legal counsel.

Electronic Registration

The Act will permit online electronic registration of documents affecting title to land such as deeds, leases, debentures, powers of attorney, etc. in addition to paper format.

Notices of Mortgage

The Act will also establish a new notice based system for the registration of mortgages which will permit a Notice of Mortgage to be registered in a form acceptable to the Registrar of Deeds rather than the entire mortgage document. This notice based system will be similar to the Personal Property Registry where only relevant information relating to the mortgage would be filed. Registration of the full mortgage document may occur where the Registrar considers it necessary. Where notice of a mortgage has been filed, a mortgagor may request from the mortgagee a full copy of the mortgage document and the mortgagee is required to provide same within a period of 30 days.

Who May File Electronically?

Any person wishing to file a document electronically must be a person who has been approved by the Registrar of Deeds. The person filing a document electronically is responsible for its accuracy and must comply with the requirements of the Act and the Regulations. The Registrar may refuse documents for registration where a legible written description of the property is not attached or where the document is illegible.

Effect of Registration

Once registered, a document shall constitute notice of the document to any person claiming an interest in the land, notwithstanding any defect in the proof for registration. The effective time of registration of a document will be from the time it is delivered to the Registry, either personally, by mail or in electronic form, if it complies with the requirements of the Act. The document shall be executed by all persons from whom an interest passes and must be accompanied by a registration application form.

Witnessing and Proving

Documents for Registration The Act also makes changes regarding persons who may witness and prove a document being presented for registration. Documents executed in the Province or outside the Province may now be proven in the presence of a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an officer of the Provincial Police Force or the Mayor of a city or town.

Releases of Mortgage

The Act sets forth new requirements on mortgagees to provide for timely release of Mortgages and stipulates penalties for failure to meet these requirements. Where a mortgage is paid in full, the mortgagee must, within 60 days of payout, register in the Registry of Deeds a Release of Mortgage and, where applicable, a Release of an Assignment of Rents, and provide a copy of the registered Release(s) to the mortgagor. A mortgagee who fails to comply with the Act is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.00.

Registration of Plans

The Act also permits a person who wishes to register an instrument with a plan attached to provide a copy of the plan to the Registry, which shall be registered as part of the document. Any master plan attached to an instrument shall be filed in paper format. As of January 2009, the Association of Newfoundland Land Surveyors adopted LandGazette as their official online property mapping system. This is a computerized online property mapping system for the Province which will allow lawyers and others to search and download survey information. This will be another important tool to assist lawyers in certifying title when acting on a real estate transaction.

For more information on the new Act or any other real estate issue please contact:

Roland C. Snelgrove at (709) 570-5324
Randell W. Smith at (709) 570-5348
Shawn M. Kavanagh at (709) 570-5524
Stephanie Hickman at (709) 570-5536
M. John Mate at (709) 570-5530

This is a Cox & Palmer publication prepared by our Real Estate Group in St. John’s, NL.  It is intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. If you have any comments or topic suggestions, please contact Roland Snelgrove at:

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Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.