The following article, entitled “Are You Looking for 20 Chains”, was originally published in the May 2021 edition of the Manitoba Bar Association (MBA) newsletter, Headnotes & Footnotes, and is being reproduced with the permission of the MBA.
As Chair of the Real Property Subsection Committee for the Manitoba Bar Association and as the Designated Representative for Manitoba Real Property for the Canadian Bar Association, I am often contacted by solicitors who have general questions about real property law in Manitoba; pursuant to a recent inquiry, real estate solicitors may find the following to be not only informative but also practical.
Being a Manitoba solicitor and a Public Member of the Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors, the practical information that will be shared in this article must be qualified with a disclaimer that pursuant to The Land Surveyors Act C.C.S.M. c. L60 (Manitoba) no person other than a Manitoba land surveyor shall engage in the practice of land surveying and thereby no person other than a Manitoba land surveyor shall determine, establish, locate, demarcate or define a boundary used to reference, describe or delineate, inter alia, land.
On occasion a solicitor may encounter a title with a legal description whereby a Legal Subdivision is referenced in lieu of a plan number, for example:
LEGAL SUBDIVISIONS 3, 6, 11 AND 14 OF SECTION 22-13-8 WPM
The reference to “legal subdivision” may cause confusion and with no ability to order a “plan” the solicitor must consider standard Section measurements in determining “what land” the title is for.
- 1 square mile is equal to 5,280 feet x 5,280 feet;
- 1 Section is equal to 640 acres or one square mile;
- 4 Quarter Sections equal 1 Section;
- 1 Quarter is equal to 160 acres;
- 1 Legal Subdivision is equal to 1320 feet x 1320 feet akin to one quarter of a Quarter Section
As a Legal Subdivision is equal to 1320 feet x 1320 feet is akin to one quarter of a Quarter Section, the next question is where within a Quarter Section and where within a Section is a Legal Subdivision located? To answer, a diagram of a Section is of remarkable assistance:
In considering this information we should keep in mind why it is important for a solicitor to know where the land they intend to convey is located; one must only consider the problems that have occurred within various condominium corporations throughout the Province of Manitoba where a condominium unit is incorrectly conveyed, for example, unit owner A is the registered owner of unit 1 but actually resides in unit 2, the registered owner of unit 2 being unit owner B; the incorrectly conveyed unit would most certainly have conveyed correctly had the solicitor, or for that matter the real estate salesperson, reviewed the condominium plan with the prospective unit owner prior to the conveyance and thereby identified the location of the unit not having relied solely upon the numerical designation for the physical condominium suite. Notwithstanding that condominium units and Legal Subdivisions are different, the same principles apply whereby the solicitor, or for that matter the real estate salesperson, should ensure that the Legal Subdivision being conveyed is indeed the same physical land that the transferor believes it is transferring.
To conclude, you may still be wondering why the title of this article is “Are you looking for 20 chains?”, importantly the “chain” was the manner in which our early River Lots, Outer Two Miles and Sections were measured and a Legal Subdivision being equal to one quarter of a quarter section is equal to 20 chains x 20 chains or 1320 feet x 1320 feet.
So, if you are conveying a Legal Subdivision it is prudent to “look for 20 chains” to ensure that the land being legally conveying is indeed the physical land that ought to be conveyed.
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This article represents general information and is not legal advice. Please contact us if you would like legal advice that is tailored to your particular circumstances. We would be happy to help.