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Buying or selling a property

There are various reasons for obtaining information about a specific piece of property, but it is a common requirement in real estate transactions.

When looking to purchase a property, it is advisable to inquire if permits and inspections were completed on previous renovations. When selling a property, it may be in the seller's interest to verify that all permits and inspections on previous work have been completed, as this may delay a potential sale.

 


What is it?

Many buyers think they can walk around their property and be sure that everything is compliant. They say: my garage is within the fence line, so all is good. Or: my fence has been there for 10 years, and nobody has complained. Later it is determined that the fence line was built 5 inches over on the neighbour's property. Which could also mean that your garage is, in reality, partially on their property.

This is an unfortunate situation, that, if not discovered and corrected, could cause a sale collapse, and could potentially open the seller up to legal liability. A fence could be expensive and time consuming to move, but moving or correcting the garage could very easily end up being a massive cost. Many other situations can be just as troublesome, such as structures built on a City utility right-of-way.

A Compliance Certificate is a report from the City of Medicine Hat confirming that all buildings and structures on a property have met the regulations under the Land Use Bylaw and have appropriate development permits.

A Compliance Certificate is not a legislative requirement, but rather a service provided by the City of Medicine Hat. The City does not require you to get a Compliance Certificate.

 

How Compliance Certificates help

When selling your home, the purchase contract stipulates that you must provide a current Real Property Report and evidence of municipal compliance. Bring your Real Property Report to Planning & Development Services where a Planning staff member will review it, to ensure that everything complies with the current Zoning Bylaw. If all of the buildings and/or structures shown on the Real Property Report have the required permits, the Compliance Certificate will indicate that everything complies.

A Compliance Certificate does not enforce any safety code requirements, nor does it provide permit information on any developments which are not visible from the exterior, such as interior renovations.

 

Nonconforming structures

If the buildings and/or structures on a property have permits according to a previous Land Use Bylaw requirement, but fail to meet the current Land Use Bylaw requirements, the applicant will receive a Compliance Certificate Report indicating that their buildings and/or structures are nonconforming.

In this situation, the appropriate permits are in place and no further action is required.

 

Correcting identified issues

If the appropriate permits or encroachment agreements for some of the structures have not been applied for, the applicant will receive a report indicating what the issue is and what actions the applicant must take to correct the issue. (For example, apply for an encroachment agreement, remove the structure, apply for permits, etc).

If your property has a non-compliant structure, contact Planning & Development Services. We can discuss your options with you, and help you determine the best way to resolve the issue.

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Ph. 403.529.8374
pbe@medicinehat.ca

 

How to apply for a Compliance Certificate

To apply, please have the following:

 A letter of intent, addressed to Planning & Development Services, indicating your request for a Compliance Certificate, the property's municipal address, your contact information, and company name (if applicable)

 A Real Property Report of the property, surveyed within 90 days of your application*

 A copy of a current Duplicate Certificate of Title for the property

* If the Real Property Report was surveyed more than ninety (90) days from the date received by the City, a Statutory Declaration will be required from the registered owner of the property stating that the Real Property Report is accurate, and that there have been no changes to the site since the date of survey. If additions have been made to the site, these must be sketched on the RPR and referred to in the Statutory Declaration.
All structures must show dimensions and elevation (height) in metres.

Apply in person, between 8:30am and 4:30pm, to:

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE

There is a fee associated with a Compliance Certificate application, payable when you submit your application. The City accepts payments in cash, cheques and debit (not credit cards). View fee schedule.

 

How long will it take?

Generally, you will receive a response within 3 to 5 business days.

   


The City does not issue Real Property Reports. A Real Property Report is a schematic diagram recently prepared (within 90 days or less) by a Certified Alberta Land Surveyor which shows:

 The legal description of the property;
 Dimensions and directions of all property boundaries;
 Designation of adjacent properties, roads, lanes;
 Location and description of all relevant improvements situated on the property including dimensions and distances from the property boundaries;
 Right-of-way or easements as noted on the title to the property at the date of the survey;
 Location and dimension of any visible encroachments onto, or off of the property; and
 Certification with the surveyor's seal.

 

Why are RPRs needed?

They are a common requirement in the sale of real estate. If you are selling your property through a Realtor, the contract that you will likely sign will be a standard AREA (Alberta Real Estate Association) contract.  In most cases, this standard contract will require a seller to provide a Real Property Report reflecting the current state of improvements on the land and evidence of municipal compliance (or legal non-conformance).

In the City of Medicine Hat, this "evidence of compliance" is provided by a Compliance Certificate (see above) which is issued by Planning & Development Services.

 

How to apply for a Real Property Report

If you need a Real Property Report or Survey Plan, or need one updated, contact a registered Alberta Land Surveyor. There is a charge for this service and you are advised to shop around, as rates vary. The City does not recommend nor endorse any private surveying companies.

If you have more questions about Real Property Reports, your best options are to contact a lawyer or real estate office.



An encroachment is loosely defined as being any portion of a building, fence, driveway, retaining wall or other structure which extends onto City property.

Encroachments are often discovered when a property is being sold. Usually either the real estate purchasing contract or the lending institution has a clause in its contract that requires the seller provide a guarantee that any structures encroaching upon easements, utility rights-of-way, or adjacent public lands have been approved by the City.

NOTE: Survey markers are important! Boundary markers are one-meter long metal pins inserted in the ground at the intersection of property lines. It is illegal to remove or tamper with these markers. For more info, see: Guide to Survey Markers (PDF).

 

What are the options for encroachments?

1)  Minor encroachments are usually allowed to remain as built with an Encroachment Agreement in effect, however, the City may place conditions on any future alterations to them.

2)  If any encroaching structure is deemed to be causing a safety hazard or interfering with the maintenance of a utility, the City will require it to be removed, at the owner's cost.

3)  In some cases where the land is surplus to the City's needs, there may be a choice given to purchase the land from the City.

The City of Medicine Hat has established an Encroachment Policy to manage existing encroachments, authorize acceptable encroachments through Encroachment Agreements, and provide a fair way of dealing with encroachments that must be removed.

  View Encroachment Policy (PDF)

 

What is an Encroachment Agreement?

An Encroachment Agreement is a written confirmation between the City and an owner of a property which allows a structure that extends onto City or public property to remain in place. 

 

How to apply for an Encroachment Agreement

 To apply, please have the following:

 A letter of intent, addressed to Planning & Development Services, indicating why you are applying for an Encroachment Agreement, the property's municipal address and legal description (lot, block, plan), your contact information, and company name (if applicable)
 A copy of a current Duplicate Certificate of Title for the property
 A Real Property Report of the property, surveyed within 90 days of your application
  Photographs showing the encroaching feature (recommended)

Apply in person, between 8:30am and 4:30pm, to:

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE

There is a fee associated with an Encroachment Agreement application, payable when you submit your application. The City accepts payments in cash, cheques and debit (not credit cards). View fee schedule.

 

How long will it take?

After an application is received, the information is first circulated through to the affected City departments.
The review and circulation may take up to six (6) weeks or more depending on the complexity of the application and the workload.

Once completed and no objections are presented, the encroachment agreement will be prepared and sent to the applicant for signature. (If rejected, the property owner will be required to remove the encroaching structure.)

When we have the signed agreement, it will take approximately 2 days to be officially executed.



These types of requests are usually to provide assistance in the completion of real estate transactions and are processed by Planning & Development Services. Information can only be provided pertaining to properties within the City of Medicine Hat.

PROPERTY CARDS are commonly requested by realtors and lawyers during a purchase or sale of a property, but anyone can apply and receive a Property Card. It provides information on work done to a property within the City of Medicine Hat, the scope of work, types of permits and the result of Safety Codes inspections.

ZONING CERTIFICATES state the zoning (land use) district of a subject property and whether the existing structures are permitted or discretionary uses.

A PERMIT SEARCH lists any outstanding Development Permits, Building Permits or Trades Permits.

ENVIRONMENTAL DATA: Environmental Compliance Certificates may be issued showing general environmental information or Alberta environmental approvals related to a property.

 

How to apply

To apply, indicate the manner of your request, the property's municipal address, your contact information, and company name (if applicable). There is no application form.

Submit in person, or by mail:

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Medicine Hat, AB  T1A 8E6
Ph. 403.529.8374
pbe@medicinehat.ca

There is a fee associated with property information disclosures, payable when you make the request. The City accepts payments in cash, cheques and debit (not credit cards). View fee schedule.

Licensed realtors and other professionals may set up accounts with the City for such applications. Contact Planning & Development Services for more information.

 

How long will it take?

Property Cards are generally processed in 1-2 business days. Zoning Certificates and Permit Searches are generally processed in 3-5 business days. The timeline of Environmental Compliance Certificates varies, depending on the issues surrounding individual properties.



NOTE:
The following information is associated with assigning or changing the number of a City street address. It does not relate to moving your residence or business, nor notices of relocation.

Do not arbitrarily assign addresses to units

Property owners may have a commercial property which has been segmented into several bays, or a residential property which has several suites, or perhaps the owner has added a secondary suite to their home. It is important that the addresses not be assigned arbitrarily, since it can cause future problems and delays for the owner in the case of required development permits and/or building permits, as well as emergency services.

The property owner should request that a Development Officer assign proper addressing of the unit(s). We will need your name, contact information and the details of your property. See below: How to apply. 

Requesting an address change

A property owner or developer may apply to Planning & Development Services to have an address changed. If the Development Officer determines that the change can be accommodated within the current address ranges without violating sequence or parity, the address change can occur.
Once the fee is paid, the new address is circulated to City departments and external agencies, and the property owner receives written confirmation of the change. 

How to apply

To apply, come in person to Planning & Development Services (8:30 am-4:30 pm, Mon-Fri) and we will assist you. We will need your name, contact information and the details of your address request change, in writing. There is no online application form for address changes.

Apply in person:
Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Medicine Hat, AB  T1A 8E6
Ph. 403.529.8374
pbe@medicinehat.ca

There is a non-refundable fee associated with an address change application, payable when you make the request. The City accepts payments in cash, cheques and debit (not credit cards). See Fee schedule.

 

General addressing guidelines

  Every parcel must have an address.
  Every parcel has an associated legal description.
  Odd numbers are assigned to the east and south sides of numbered streets and avenues, except on curvilinear streets.
  Even numbers are assigned to the west and north sides of numbered streets and avenues, except on curvilinear streets.

When are addresses assigned?

  When a subdivision application is made, new addresses and street names may be required. Street names are recommended by the developer and negotiated with The City. Development Officers assign titled parcel, building, building suite, and entranceway addresses. To learn more, visit Subdividing a property.
  Sometimes a development permit can result in addresses being changed or added. To learn more, visit Development permits.
  As new development is built, new addresses are requested to be assigned for buildings, entrances and building suites or units within the development.



Third-party home inspections
are different than City inspections. The City ensures that the minimum safety standards of construction are met. A third-party home inspection is conducted by a private company not affiliated with The City. This inspection is typically requested by the prospective home buyer and is an overall non-invasive inspection to determine the condition of the house.

While a third-party home inspection may reveal information that is valuable in making your decision to purchase a property, it does not ensure there are no hidden issues. A non-invasive inspection may not determine the condition of any work which is concealed.

The City cannot recommend a third-party home inspection service. You can find them by searching local listings or asking for recommendations in the community.



To see a month-by-month breakdown of the types and number of building permits which have been issued by the City, visit building permits issued.

To see overall statistics of all development types within the City, visit P&DS department reports.