Lost Your Duplicate Certificate of Title?

When you become the registered owner of real property in British Columbia that is free and clear of any financial encumbrances or agreements for sale, the Land Title Office has the ability to issue to you a “Duplicate Certificate of Title” (or more simply, a “Duplicate Title”) that prevents the majority of possible changes from being made to your Title.

In the past, the issuance of your Duplicate Title to a lender as a form of security for a loan was much more commonplace than it is today. The practical downside to the practice of issuing Duplicate Title is that it involves the physical delivery of a certificate that, if lost or destroyed, prevents the Land Title Office from making changes to a property’s Title meaning that it cannot be sold or mortgaged.

For clients who have owned their property for an extended period of time issues with Duplicate Title typically arise because at one point during their ownership there was a loan that they had with a major financial institution that required as part of their loan security that a duplicate indefeasible title certificate be provided to the bank. Then, even though the loan has since been repaid and all security was to be discharged, the Duplicate Title certificate was lost by the bank or was returned by the bank to the client who subsequently misplaced same without submitting same back to the land title office.

In either circumstance, the Duplicate Title was not returned to the Land Title Office and Title for the property shows that Duplicate Title  as issued and outstanding, preventing the client from completing fundamental rights associated with property ownership such as being able to transfer or secure loans against the property.

The solution to this problem of lost Duplicate Title certificate is to apply to the Land Title Office for the issuance of a provisional indefeasible title (a “PIT“) which can then be returned to the Land Title Office for cancellation pursuant to section 176 of the Land Title Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 250 (the “Act“).

A PIT is very useful because, as per section 194 of the Act, a PIT can be used for all purposes and uses that the lost Duplicate Title certificate could have been used for and relates back to the date of registration or issuance of the lost Duplicate Title.

Section 193 of the Act specifically contemplates lost Duplicate Title certificates and the steps that clients must take in order to obtain a PIT are as follows:

  1. Electronically submit a PIT application to the land title office with proof of loss evidenced by an affidavit sworn by the registered owner(s) (the “Affidavit”).
  2. The Affidavit must contain the following:
    • the title number, legal description of the property, and the full legal name(s) of the registered owner(s).
    • the particulars as to:
    • – the delivery of the Duplicate Title from the time it was taken from the land title office to its receipt by the registered owner;
      – the circumstances of its loss; and
      – the efforts made to find it;

    • a statement that the registered owner(s) have been in uninterrupted legal possession of the land for X number of years without any adverse claim having been made against him/her/them;
    • a statement that the registered owner(s) have never pledged the duplicate indefeasible title or hypothecated it by way of security for a loan or otherwise except as set out in the Affidavit; and
    • the present market value of the property (land plus improvements).

  3. If a lender or other third party(ies) obtained or made use of the Duplicate Title certificate after its delivery form the land title office and before it was lost, the registered owner(s) should obtain sworn affidavits from such party(ies) in order to demonstrate continuity or a chain of events leading to its loss in order to provide comfort to the registrar that the Duplicate Title certificate could not have fallen into the hands of someone inappropriate.
  4. Once submitted to the Land Title Office, the application will undergo a review and if approved the Land Title Office will contact our office regarding advertising requirements about the issuance of a PIT and any further instructions they may have in connection with the application.
  5. With respect to advertisements, the Land Title Office may require an advertisement of the registrar’s intention to issue a PIT for whatever time period and in locations (including one or more newspapers, or the British Columbia Gazette, a Crown publication, or both) that the registrar considers necessary; however, discretion from the Land Title Office may be exercised deeming such advertisement not necessary in the circumstances.

If issued, the title for the property at issue will be updated to note the issuance of the PIT and the date of issue while also referring to the Affidavit filed as evidence of loss by its filing number.

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