Land Titles occasionally receives documents that are fraudulent, including forged signatures or wrongfully obtained corporate seals. Although Land Titles attempts to stop such documents from being registered through the document examination process, such documents from time to time are registered. The Assurance Fee is created by the Land Titles Act for payment of claims by people who have been deprived of their interests in land through mistakes by the Registrar or through fraudulent activities.
Claims to recover damages may be made in 2 situations:
- Where a person has suffered loss through an omission, mistake or misfeasance of the Registrar, or
- Where a person has been deprived of their interest in land
- through bringing their land under the Act, or
- by the registration of some other person as owner of their interest in the land, or
- by an error, omission or wrong description in a certificate of title,
and who are prevented by the Act from suing to recover that interest.
Claims must be made within 6 years of the date that the loss occurred.
Examples of claims
Mistake by the Registrar
You loan money to a person to be secured by a mortgage on that person’s condominium. Land Titles inadvertently registers the mortgage only against the parking stall, not the condominium proper. The owner then obtains a mortgage loan from a bank and the bank, which is unaware of your interest, registers its mortgage against both the parking stall and the condominium proper. The owner then sells the property and the bank is paid out from the sale proceeds. You have lost what should have been a registered mortgage against the condominium title and you are unable to sue to recover it due to the operation of the Act.
Land Titles fraud
You are the registered owner of a property. Jones forges your signature on a transfer of land and transfers the property to himself. Jones then sells the property to a third party. Jones disappears with the proceeds of the sale. Several months later you wonder why you didn’t receive your tax notice from the City and call about it only to learn that you are not the registered owner any longer. You have lost your registered interest as owner and are unable to sue to recover it due to the operation of the Act.
Generally Assurance Fee claims, particularly those that involve land titles fraud are complex and technical. It is strongly recommended that you get a lawyer. The Law Society of Alberta operates a Lawyer Referral Service which will provide the names of 3 lawyers who practice in the area and will provide an initial half hour consultation without charge. The toll free number is 1-800-661-1095.
How to apply
Step 1. Write a notice
Claimants must give 3 months notice of the claim to the Registrar and the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. Write a letter setting out the details of the claim. Include copies of any relevant documents. This will serve as your notice.
Step 2. Mail your notice
Notices to the Registrar may be mailed to:
Executive Director of Land Titles and Surveys
John E Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Notices to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General may be made to:
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
424 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
After you apply
The Registrar will:
- review the claim
- undertake an investigation of the circumstances
- advise if the claim can be accepted. The Registrar has authority to approve and finalize claims that do not exceed $1000.
If the Registrar is unable to approve the claim or the claim is for more than $1000, the Registrar will contact you regarding the next steps.
If you have to sue
If the claim is for damages for loss suffered as the result of mistakes by the Registrar you will have to sue the Registrar in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
If the claim alleges that the damages for loss suffered were caused by the wrongful acts of other people, those people must be sued along with the Registrar.
Once a lawsuit is started, the matter will proceed in accordance with the Rules of Court. If the court finds that people other than the Registrar are liable for the damages the court will render judgment against those people. If those people are unable to satisfy a judgment, a final judgment be rendered against the Registrar and the amount ordered will be paid out of the Assurance Fee.
To connect with the Land Titles Registrar:
Mezzanine Floor, John E Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Attn: Executive Director of Land Titles and Surveys