What is a "migration" and why do you care?

Many people may have heard the term "migration" with respect to property but have no idea what that means. That’s fair, a lot of people don’t.

Here is the Coles notes explanation of "migration"

Land across Canada is registered in a database or registry of some kind. Each province has their own system, and they are not all the same.

For a long time in Nova Scotia properties were registered with paper documents in registry offices in each district. In order to find out about a property you had to go down to that registry office and pull out all of those paper documents and review them.

In 2002 Nova Scotia passed the Land Registration Act, which put into place a new registration system. This one is an online database with a detail of the ownership and interests for each parcel. There is a map view to show the boundaries of each property, according to the information the Property Online has received. The ownership interest in each parcel of land is guaranteed by the province once it is registered with the new system. (** Note it is only ownership interest, and not boundaries etc. that is guaranteed).

The term migration refers to the process of transferring all of the information and documents relating to any particular piece of property from the old registration system to the new online system. Once the process is finished and approved by Registry of Deeds - the property is "migrated".  A property only needs to be migrated once. Changes to the interests and ownership of the property going forward will be done directly with the new online registry system.

In addition to the practical benefits of an online system, the other main reason for migration is to once and for all clean up any issues associated with title. Such as “squatters’ rights”, which are often cancelled out by a migration by the paper title holder, and new squatters’ rights do not accrue after a property is migrated.

Why do you care about migrations? You can migrate your property voluntarily, however, there are some things, such as refinancing, subdivision, or selling your home, that trigger migration. That means you are unable to sell or refinance your property until it is migrated. (There are exceptions, but very few).

Whether the property is migrated is something to keep in mind when buying or selling a property, as it will add cost and potentially time.  

Selling, or want to migrate your property?

If you have general questions about migrating, buying, selling or refinancing your home you can contact us online or call 902-826-3070.

By Briana C. O'Grady, JD - Associate Lawyer

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