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Small Spaces, Big Questions: Navigating Land Leases and Legalities for Tiny Homes in Ontario

an image of a tiny home in ontario

Disclaimer: This article on owning a tiny home in Ontario is intended for the purpose of providing information only. It is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

As rents and housing prices become increasingly less affordable, more Ontarians are looking into tiny homes. For example, Ancaster’s first Tiny Homes Show was held in August 2022 and drew over 2,000 visitors and had over 20 speakers presenting on a variety of topics. Shows like Tiny House Nation have become increasingly popular and many wonder if a tiny home may be the solution. 

With their cozy interiors, clever design features, and the promise of financial freedom, tiny homes have become appealing. Many see tiny homes as a way to downsize, reduce their ecological footprint, and embrace a more intentional way of living.

However, what legal issues should you consider before selecting your floor plans? What are the challenges to legally owning and parking a tiny home? What should you consider if you want to build a tiny home in Ontario?

This article will consider these questions and more. Whether you are looking at a tiny home or a [something], it is important to have the right real estate lawyer by your side. Our team of legal experts will guide you through the intricacies of home ownership, helping you navigate the legal landscape and ensure compliance with local regulations.

What is a Tiny Home?

In Ontario, a tiny home refers to a small, self-contained dwelling that typically ranges from 100 to 500 square feet in size. These homes are designed to maximize functionality and efficiency within a limited space. Tiny homes in Ontario often prioritize sustainable living, minimalism, and affordability, making them an attractive alternative to traditional housing options.

While each municipality will have its own requirements, the tiny house construction bylaws mandate that a tiny home must measure between 17.5 ft2 (188 ft2) and 37 m2 (400 ft2 ). It must also meet these requirements: 

  • It must meet the Ontario Building Code requirements for health and safety; 
  • You must be able to live in it year-round
  • It must have an area for dining, living and sleeping and have a functional kitchen and bathroom. 
  • It must have sewage and water hookups. 

Financing your tiny home 

It’s worth noting that it’s incredibly difficult to secure financing for your tiny home. Lenders are reluctant to provide traditional mortgage loans for tiny homes due to their unique nature and less confidence in their resale value. However, there are still financing options available to help you fund your tiny home project. For example, if you are purchasing from a tiny home builder, they will typically have their own financing plans in place.

Municipal requirements for your tiny home in Ontario

The municipality where you intend to park your tiny home will have various bylaws and zoning requirements that may affect you. 

These include:

  • Minimum lot size
  • Minimum residential building size
  • Distance from lot lines and/or a public street
  • Height requirements
  • Parking needs
  • Access to municipal services (sewage, electricity etc.)
  • Architectural design
  • Access for emergency services. 

Land Lease to Park Your Tiny Homes

Finding suitable land to park your tiny home is a critical step in realizing your tiny living dreams. Whether you’re looking for a permanent location or a temporary spot, there are several factors to consider when searching for the ideal piece of land. 

However, like any agreement, you’ll want to consider carefully your land lease. Some areas to consider include: 

  1. Utilities

Can you connect to essential utilities, such as water, sewage and electricity? How will the costs be shared? Are there any restrictions to your use of the utilities? 

  1. Maintenance costs

Clarify the costs associated with the land lease. In addition to the monthly rent, are there any other fees, such as property taxes, maintenance fees, or utility expenses? Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the property, such as landscaping and snow removal? Discuss any potential increases in rent over time and whether there are provisions for negotiating lease terms in the future.

  1. Your use of the land

When leasing land to park your tiny home, it’s essential to discuss and understand your permitted use of the property. Are there any restrictions or limitations on the activities you can engage in on the land? Are there specific rules regarding modifications to the land or the number of occupants allowed? It’s important to clarify these details to ensure that your intended use aligns with the terms of the land lease.

  1. Lease term and termination 

Review the lease duration and termination conditions carefully. Is the lease for a fixed term or a month-to-month basis? Understand the process for terminating the lease and any penalties or notice periods involved. It’s also important to consider if there are any options for lease renewal or extension if you plan to park your tiny home on the land for an extended period.

Beeksma Law: Answering all of your big questions 

At Beeksma Law, our commitment to exceptional client service, attention to detail, and in-depth knowledge of Ontario real estate laws set us apart. Contact Beeksma Law today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards making your home ownership dreams a reality.

Do you understand your commercial lease agreement?

breaking your commercial lease agreement in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article on commercial lease agreement in Ontario is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Our office has been receiving more and more inquiries recently relating to commercial leasing disputes.  This is to be expected to some extent – after all, we are in a recession – and we want to make sure that all of our clients are aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to their leases.

Of course, every situation and lease is unique. If you would like to discuss your lease, please get in touch with our office as soon as possible. We are well-versed in commercial tenant law, and we can provide you with advice and guidance on how to proceed.

Your Commerical Lease Agreement in Ontario

Many landlords reach out to us because they are having significant difficulties with their tenants, such as their tenants defaulting on rent or not following the terms of their lease. What are your options?

Well, what does your lease say? Generally speaking, your lease is going to be your ground zero. If you have a well-prepared lease, you have more options. On the other hand, if you do not have a strongly worded, clear, and enforceable lease, you have fewer options. 

The reality is that there are not a lot of protections under common law or in the legislation, specifically the Commercial Tenancies Act. Your lease is your best form of protection. We cannot overstate it enough: if you are not sure if your lease will protect you from a difficult tenant, you do not want to wait until there is an issue to find out.

Most savvy commercial landlords have an exceedingly good lease that gives them all the rights and “hold the cards,” so to speak. So what does that mean for tenants?

Signing a commercial lease as a tenant

You may be so excited to find the perfect space for your growing business that you are ready to sign anything. However, you need to ensure that the terms of the lease protect you and your business as much as possible.

You have rights as a tenant, but if you sign away those rights when you sign your lease, then you cannot avail yourself of the remedies provided for in the Commercial Tenancies Act. You must understand what you are signing and the lease must be able to also serve your interests.

That is where we come in. Before you sign your rights away, talk to our team. Too often, we see great businesses with their hands tied by a landlord-provided lease, and we do not want that for you. We can help you understand what the terms really mean and negotiate the terms that will hold your business back.

Protecting your interests with Beeksma Law

At Beeksma Law, our comprehensive experience covers both sides of the table. For landlords,  we can help with drafting and enforcing your leases. For tenants, our experience helps to ensure that your rights are protected while you sign a lease.

We believe in empowering our clients. When you are armed with knowledge, you can make informed decisions that are in the best interests of your business. We clearly explain the law and ensure you understand what is at stake before signing on the dotted line. Book a call with our team today – we are happy to hear from you!

Navigating Construction Liens in Ontario

blueprints and construction materials representing construction liens in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article on Navigating Construction Liens in Ontario is intended for the purposes of providing information only. It is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Construction liens are on the rise in 2023. As we mentioned in an earlier article, this is to be expected as litigation will increase during economic uncertainty. This also extends to construction liens. The good news is that you can protect yourself and your business by understanding:

  • what a lien is,
  • how it works, and
  • when to act before the situation gets out of control.

As with all business matters, protecting yourself comes down to two actions: understanding your rights and working with someone to help you both prevent and react to a lien.

What are construction liens?

A construction lien is a legal claim that one party registers against a property that is undergoing construction or renovation. It’s a form of security for payment that ensures that you pay the contractors and subcontractors for the work and the materials supplied. The lien gives the claimant the right to sell the property to recover the money owed to them.

The Ontario’s Construction Act governs construction liens. It sets out the rules and procedures for registering and enforcing liens in Ontario. The Act applies to all construction projects, whether they’re residential or commercial and whether they’re new builds or renovations.

How do construction liens work in Ontario

A construction lien is a powerful tool that can have serious consequences for both property owners and contractors. Here’s how it works:

  • A contractor or subcontractor who has provided services or materials on a construction project and has not been paid can register a lien against the property.
  • The claimant must give notice of the lien to the property owner and other interested parties, such as the mortgage lender.

The lien must be preserved (by registering it on title or providing a notice of lien) within a specific timeframe. That timeframe is now 60 days after the last day of work or supply of materials. It was previously 45 days, but this changed as of October 1, 2019. Once a party registers a lien, the property owner cannot sell or mortgage the property until the lien is resolved.

The claimant (the person who registered the lien) must “perfect” the lien within 150 days of the last day of work or supply of materials. Perfecting the lien means commencing legal action to enforce the lien.

Protecting yourself as a contractor

As a contractor or subcontractor, it’s important to protect yourself from non-payment.  

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to make sure that all contracts are in place before starting any work. The contract should clearly define the scope of the project, payment terms, deadlines and other relevant details, such as who owns any materials provided by the contractor.

Having an enforceable contract in place will help avoid disputes down the line if there is ever an issue with payment. It’s also important that you make all payments on time according to the schedule in your contract to minimize any potential delays or issues further down the line.  

It’s important that you keep careful records. If you find you’re having difficulty collecting payment from a client or are getting a run-around, you will be ready to register a lien against the property owner. You will also need to be organized when it comes to ensuring that you register within 60 days. The courts will hold to that deadline, so make sure you do everything necessary to ensure you register your lien in a timely manner.

Protecting yourself as a property owner

If someone registers a lien against your property, it is a serious issue and can have a major impact on your ability to sell or mortgage the property. Outstanding liens delay a project, or, even more seriously, financial institutions may even freeze loans or lines of credit. 

The only remedy that you, as a homeowner, have against a construction lien relates to the work done. Did the contractor complete the requested work? If the contractor did not complete the work, then you may have grounds to dispute the lien.  

It’s important to note that the standard is not whether or not the contractor completed the work to your standards. It is whether or not they did the work under the contract to the level of a “reasonable contractor”.

You can also include in your contract a “holdback”. This means that you can withhold a specified amount of funds from the contractor until the lien has expired or been released. It is important to consider this option as it may give you some protection against construction liens in the future. For example, if a subcontractor registers a lien for non-payment by the contractor, you can use the funds in your holdback to cover part or all of that subcontractor’s claim.

Of course, always make sure that you do your research and hire a reputable contractor before commencing any construction project.

Dealing with construction liens: Don’t wait!

As with most legal matters, the more proactive you are, the better. Whether you are disputing work done to your home or waiting for payment as a contractor, do not wait! Contact us right away to ensure we can resolve it in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Whether you are a contractor or property owner, understanding construction liens and how they work is important in order to protect yourself from potential financial losses. At Beeksma Law, we help our clients deal with construction lien matters and can provide you with the legal advice that you need. Contact us today for more information.  ?

Do I need an estate litigation lawyer

Disclaimer: This article on choosing an estate litigation lawyer is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Estate law is more than preparing a will or settling an estate after the death of a loved one. There is also the litigation side of estate law. This article is designed to help you understand if you need to pursue estate litigation and if so, what that would look like.

At Beeksma Law, we practice in a variety of areas, including estate litigation. We understand that disputes involving estates can be unquestionably difficult and emotional. We provide guidance to help our clients navigate these complicated cases, so they are able to make the best decisions for their families.

Firstly, a note for those planning their estate.

Preventing Estate Litigation

To begin with, if you are planning your estate,  it is important to take steps to prevent future disputes. This includes ensuring that your will is clear and properly drawn with the help of an estate lawyer, that all assets are properly allocated, and that executors and trustees know what is expected of them. With proper planning, you can be more confident that your executor will follow your wishes and avoid disputes.

What is estate litigation?

Simply put, estate litigation is when someone seeks legal action because of a dispute involving the management, control and distribution of property within an estate.

Let’s consider some examples of when someone may want to pursue estate litigation.

  • Challenging or contesting a will
  • Disputes related to how the estate executor carries out their duties
  • Disputes related to how much a beneficiary receives from an estate or how much the estate is worth
  • Issues related to how a power of attorney is being used
  • Disputes between co-executors
  • Disputes between co-attorneys of a power of attorney
  • Disagreements between beneficiaries
  • Disputes related to compensation for the estate trustee
  • Guardianship and incompetency disputes
  • Disputes that arise when there is no valid will

If you think you may need to pursue estate litigation, discuss this with an estate litigation lawyer immediately. In Ontario, estate litigation is time-sensitive. You must file a claim within two years after you knew or ought to have known that there was an issue. Generally, the legal standard is that the time limit begins when a “reasonable person” would know there was a problem.

Litigating an estate claim

Let’s very broadly outline how the process works if you need to litigate an estate claim. At any point, either side can file motions requesting that the judge make an order on a certain issue.

First, one party files a claim, along with any affidavits and evidence to support those claims. Then, the respondent responds to the claim, which includes their own affidavits and evidence. The applicant may or may not reply to the respondent.

Thereafter, each party cross-examine the other under oath about the materials, as well as any affidavits that they have filed.

Mediation is mandatory in Ontario. Mediation is where a neutral third party helps the parties come to an agreement. However, if this is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial, and both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge. The judge will make a  decision and issue an order that the parties must abide by.

Resolving an estate dispute without going to trial

It’s important to acknowledge that estate disputes are highly emotionally charged. Beyond the legal issues involved, grief sometimes makes people act irrationally or want to right wrongs that have nothing to do with the facts being disputed. We understand that and therefore work hard to help our clients move forward in a healthy manner while protecting their legal rights.

Litigation is simply never the best option. Litigation is time-consuming, difficult and expensive. It does not allow you to move forward in handling the estate or putting the dispute behind you. In many instances, mediation or negotiation resolves any estate disputes.

Understanding Estate Litigation With Beeksma Law

At Beeksma Law,  we understand estate litigation and how to handle it in a respectful way. With extensive experience litigating estates, we are strategic advocates when it comes to protecting your legal rights.

Book a call with our team today for your complimentary consultation.

What to Expect When Someone You Love Dies

Disclaimer: This article on losing a loved one and estate law in Ontario is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult, and if you are going through that, we extend our condolences. While you are bearing your grief, you may also have to understand the legalities of what comes next.

We believe in providing our readers with comprehensive and understandable information, so in this article, we will provide an overview of what to expect when a loved one dies in various circumstances. Of course, your situation will be unique, and we encourage you to discuss the specifics with our team.

What to Expect When There is No Will

The first thing you want to do when your loved one passes away is to locate their will. But what if the deceased had never prepared a will?

In estate law, if the deceased did not have a will, they are said to have died intestate. This means that their assets will be distributed according to the provisions set out in the Succession Law Reform Act.

If a person dies with a spouse and no children, then their spouse inherits the entire estate. However, if there are children, the spouse inherits the first $200,000, with the remainder split equally. (NOTE: When a married person dies without a will, the surviving spouse can claim either:

If there are children, but no spouse, then the children divide the estate equally. 

The division of an estate can get much more complicated when there is no spouse or children. In that instance, it will go to the parents. In the absence of parents, it will go to any siblings (with nieces and nephews receiving their parent’s share if that sibling has passed away.)

From there, the courts divide the estate amongst grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. If no relatives can be located, the estate will go to the Crown.

You must probate the estate and there will be considerable expenses in doing so. This highlights the importance of having an estate plan in place and updating that estate plan on a regular basis as your life changes.

What to Expect As the Executor

As we have previously noted, the first thing you want to do when your loved one passes away is to locate their will. If they had a will, then they would have likely named an executor in that document. In the event that they have not, you can apply to the courts

The role of the executor is to settle the estate according to the instructions set out in the will. It also includes dealing with any debts and liabilities that the deceased may have had.

If there is no will, then the role of the executor is to follow the intestacy rules as set out in the Succession Law Reform Act.

The role of executor can be a daunting one. As we have noted, it is a significant responsibility and one that requires much of your time and energy. There is a reason that lawyers commonly call it the “executor’s year”. This is not something that takes mere weeks or months. 

Of course, you do not have to do it alone. Surrounding yourself with sound advice from experienced professionals means that you will be able to  navigate this process with greater confidence.

What to Expect As a Beneficiary

If you are named as a beneficiary in someone’s will, you can expect to receive your inheritance as soon as the executor can release it. Again, this is not something that happens overnight and it may move slower than you had thought. 

The role of the executor is to pay all debts and liabilities of the deceased before any assets are distributed. This could include funeral expenses, taxes, and so on.

Once the executor has paid any debts, he or she will then move to distribute the assets according to the instructions set out in the will, withholding some of the estate to account for any further taxes  levied by the CRA.

As a beneficiary, you do not have much say in how the estate is distributed or how long it takes for you to receive your share. This is all up to the executor. However, if you feel that the executor is not fulfilling their duties or if there is some issue with the will itself, then you can seek a remedy from the courts.

You also have the right to be informed about the status of the estate, such as when the executor applies for probate.

What to Expect: Compassionate Legal Advice During Your Most Difficult Period

At times, the death of a loved one can be sudden and unexpected. Other times, it may be the culmination of a long and difficult battle with illness. No matter the circumstances, losing someone you love is always going to be a difficult experience.

The last thing you want to deal with during this already tough period is managing complex estate law issues. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this process alone. The team at Beeskma Law has extensive experience helping executors settle wills and estates, as well as helping you to set up an estate plan before you need it. 

We understand that this is a difficult and emotional time for you and we will compassionately guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.