Real Estate Development can range from small issues related to additions to single family residences to the planning, building and sale of multi-unit residential or commercial complexes.
The role of development lawyers, while it can extend to advocacy in the planning stages, is most often related to the review, creation, modification and registration of Land Title documents. In its simplest form, this will be the creation and registration of those covenants required by the applicable government authorities before a building permit can be issued. Common examples of such covenants include: Flood level covenants; septic field covenants; employee suite covenants; and tree preservation covenants.
In slightly more advanced developments that include subdivision into a greater number of lots or consolidation of multiple lots into fewer lots; or stratification into strata lots, in addition to placing any covenants required, the lawyers provide a control point that authorities require to ensure that covenants are registered simultaneously with the plans for subdivision, consolidation or stratification.
Where land subdivisions are done by bare land stratification or the development is a townhome or condominium project and the number of lots or units will be five or more, the provisions of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act must be complied with. The main criteria of REDMA involves the provision of a Disclosure Statement that reveals the developer’s experience, and clearly describes the development and anticipated costs and timing. There are many different policy statements under REDMA that set out specific rules for everything from market testing and presales through to the maximum amount of deposit allowable. The role of the lawyer in these developments expands to include helping the developer navigate the various rules under REDMA, preparation and filing of Disclosure Statements and Amended Disclosure Statements, preparation of the Purchase and Sale Contract, advising the realtors acting for the Developer, preparing a closing information package for Buyers’ lawyers, providing notices to Buyers to complete their purchases, and working with the Buyers’ lawyers to complete the transactions.
Along the way, the lawyer also helps the developer structure itself into entities such as Corporations, Limited Partnerships or Joint Ventures. The lawyer’s role will also include helping placement and management of any commercial financing required to complete a development.
There are a great variety of matters requiring legal advice and attention through any land development. An early consultation with a lawyer will help the developer client frame their ideas and identify the challenges they may face to see them through.