The following tutorial was written with other Alberta buyer agents in mind, but prospective buyers and tenants might find the information useful as well when researching homes.
Imagine this hypothetical scenario: You’ve finally found the perfect home for your client. It’s well within their budget and has all the features they wanted.
The neighbors are at home so you ask them some questions about the street and community. They tell you it’s a quiet street, haven’t had any problems for the 4 years they’ve lived there. In fact, the sellers moved into the home about the same time and have been great neighbors.
You check the Alberta Health Services website and browse the list of Illegal Drug Operations in Calgary to make sure the home isn’t listed. Your clients were adamant they don’t even want a remediated grow-op until comprehensive legislative standards are implemented in Alberta. Unfortunately, AHS only keeps the records from the past few years online and removes “inactive” properties after 30 days.
Next, you purchase the Land Title for the home and carefully review it
There’s a home owner association fee, a mortgage, and a utility right of way registered on Title. You’ll have to purchase the other registered documents to see what exactly the Restrictive Covenants are, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
On second thought, you pull the current historical title to see all the registrations.
You see just a few mortgage registrations and discharges. Nothing special.
Still not done with your due diligence, you call the Calgary Police Service (non-emergency line!) and ask whether they can disclose if any grow-ops were busted there. They advise you that current Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation prevents them from releasing this information.
Finally, you call the listing agent and have him ask his sellers whether they were aware of any illegal drug manufacturing on the premises. “Of course not,” they reply. “We wouldn’t have bought the home otherwise.”
Confident you’ve covered all your bases, you check the comparable sales and write up the offer.
What Else You Can Do
There are other ways to discover if the home was ever shut down by Alberta Health Services, but here’s a very easy and quick step you can take as a buyer’s agent before even writing the offer.
When you’re on SPIN purchasing the title, select “Cancelled Title Search” under “Additional Searches”
This will bring up all the old, cancelled titles for the property over the years, going all the way back to the subdivision plan.
Now all you have to go is click on “Search Registered Documents” for each of the cancelled titles to see an overview of the registrations.
And bingo – in 2005, a Notice of Health Hazard was first registered on title and was later discharged when the home was remediated.
You can purchase the Notice of Health Hazard for additional information.
The above example about talking with the neighbors, listing agent and seller was completely hypothetical. However, it just so happens that this home is currently on the market again and the private and public remarks don’t state anything about the previous health hazard.
As buyer’s agents, it’s important that we do all we can to protect the best interests of our clients.