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Why You Need a Property Lawyer

Lawyer and client signing documents

If you have ever leased a property, purchased a house or condo, or leased commercial space for your business, then you may understand the complexity of real estate transactions. The agreement that you ultimately reach can have serious legal consequences and practical implications in real life. As such, it is always essential to consult a knowledgeable real estate lawyer in Winnipeg to ensure that your lease, purchase, or sale, meets your needs. Below are a few of the reasons why.

How Can a Lawyer Help With a Commercial Lease?

A commercial lease can be substantially more complicated than a residential lease. The terms of a commercial lease can seriously impact the profitability and viability of a business, and the health and safety of employees, among other things. Below are just a few subject matters that may be affected by your lease, which your lawyer in Winnipeg can help you evaluate.

Changes to the Property/Improvements: What changes are you allowed to make? If you make changes or install equipment, then will you able to remove them when the lease expires, or will these features become a part of the property? Will you have to restore the property back to its original state or can you leave it as is? All of these are questions your lawyer can help you understand the answers to, by reading through the terms of a contract, and negotiating the required changes to reflect your business’ needs.

Subletting the Property: In the event that it is no longer in your business’ interest to use the property, during the term of the lease, is subletting allowed under the terms of the lease, and in what circumstances? Must the landlord approve of the new tenant, and what degree of discretion do they have? If subletting is allowed, what terms must be included in a sublet agreement?

In a 2015 decision from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, for example, the court was required to address whether a landlord (retail mall) unreasonably withheld consent to its tenant with a retail shoe business to sublet to another retailer, a seasonal/holiday store, selling giftware, home accessories and clothing. The court found that the landlord’s denial to consent was not unreasonable, given issues with the proposed sublet agreement, and the nature of the proposed subletter’s business which would conflict with the exclusive rights the landlord provided to other tenants in the mall. This issue may have been avoided if the tenant had acquired a sufficient understanding of the limits of her ability to sublet from the outset.

Insurance Details: It is important to understand what kinds of losses a landlord’s insurance covers and which types of risks must be covered by the tenant, via tenant insurance. It is important to protect your business’ assets in the event of a fire, flooding, or other accident. A lawyer can help you ensure that no risks go uncovered, whether by the landlord, or by your business, and help negotiate these terms as necessary.

How Can a Property Lawyer Help with the Purchase or Sale of a Home?

In nearly every case, it is wise to retain a lawyer when purchasing or selling a home. Below are a few key reasons why.

Conducting an Adequate Land Title Search: When buying a property, it is important to ensure a it is clear of any prior mortgages or encumbrances on the title. Encumbrances include easements, which may grant others access to, or use of, certain areas of your property. For example, in a 2016 Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench decision, the defendant buyer destroyed a bridge on their newly acquired property (a body of water), that the plaintiff had previously made regular use of in order to access certain lands that he owned (however, whether an easement actually existed was at issue, in this case). It is clear to see how important it is to understand what encumbrances exist on your property, and what changes you are able to make to your property. A Winnipeg property lawyer can help review land title and interpret the title for you, explaining any legal rights that others may have to the property.

Help Draft and/or Negotiate the Terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale: A property lawyer is accustomed to helping clients interpret and understand the portions of a contract that matter the most to them and ensuring that the terms are satisfactory to them. Purchase and sale agreements can be very specific, and a lawyer will help to ensure that you understand, when buying a property, exactly what you are receiving. Is or isn’t there a guarantee about the quality of the building, and any structural of environmental issues? If not, what searches must be conducted to ensure that the property meets your needs? Which furniture or items come with the property and which do not?

Ensuring a Smooth Closing Process: Making sure that all bases are covered, including what happens if closing is unsuccessful, and what must happen to any downpayment, and ensuring that the proper conditions are attached to the closing (e.g., requiring the buyer to obtain financing).

Do I Really Need to Retain a Lawyer to Help Me with my Real Estate Transaction?

You can see from above that the process a real estate transaction can be quite complex and time-consuming, and it requires a solid understanding of legalese to fully appreciate the implications of contractual terms. A lawyer will be able to explain the practical implications and risks of your real estate agreement and help you negotiate to include or revise any terms that are unsatisfactory to you.

While a lawyer costs money, the expenses associated with failing to understand your obligations under a real estate contract can be far greater. If you fail to understand the terms of your agreement, you may end up in litigation with the other party to the contract in the event of a dispute. Disputes are far more likely when one or both parties do not fully understand the legal implications of a purchase, sale, or lease.

Cassidy Ramsay Barristers, Solicitors & Notaries Can Protect Your Legal Interests

At Cassidy Ramsay, our property lawyers are experienced and can help ensure that your sale, purchase, or lease makes sense for you and that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible for you. Contact our real estate lawyers in Winnipeg today at 204-943-7454.


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