Land Titles vs. Land Registry

A few weeks ago, I blogged about adverse possession. Adverse possession is only possible in one type of land ownership: the Land Registry system. In Ontario, parts of the province, particularly in the north, have always been in the Land Titles system, while the majority of the rest of Ontario has been in the Land Registry System.

The Land Registry system in Ontario dates back to the late 1700s, and further back to the old English system. Properties were registered based on their descriptions in chains (66 feet) and links (100 links in a chain). Each concession lot would be 100 chains from front to back, with 20 chains of frontage to the main road. Properties were patented and deposited at the local Land Registry Office, and title was passed from one person to another in accordance with the description originally patented. Each county in Ontario was given a Land Registry Office to deal with its own properties. Specific forms were prescribed for registering transfers and mortgages, but a wide variety of documents could be registered. Certain actions, such as adverse possession or owning property in trust for another person, are permitted under the Registry System. In terms of real estate law, in order to certify title, we must search back 40 years to ensure that there are no title issues.

The Land Titles system has been in place in some parts of Ontario 1875, and has been gradually introduced to the rest of Ontario over the past 20 years. Under the Land Titles system, title does not need to be searched back 40 years; anything earlier than the current owner is protected against by the Land Titles system. This is part of the reason why adverse possession cannot occur under the Land Titles system. There are also far more stringent rules about which documents can be registered and what format they must take in order to combat against fraud. For example, property can no longer be registered in trust for another person.

Nearly all Ontario properties have now been converted into the Land Titles system, with the intention that all properties will some day be part of the Land Titles system.


  1. how can you find out if your property is coverted into the land titles system

    • You can go to your local Land Registry office and pull up your property information. If there is an LT in the legal information, it’s in Land Titles; if it’s an R, it’s in Registry.

  2. If a property is converted into LT, does that constitute a guarantee that all instruments in the Registry system (whether they appeared in the abstract index or the by-law index) that affect that a property have been converted and will show up in the LT PIN?

  3. Anything still on title should show up in the parcel register, even after it’s been converted. As long as it was on title at the time of conversion, it should be there.

  4. I am having an issue where we purchased a 10 acre plot that had been subdivided into 10 separate 1 acre lots in a 1856 plan of subdivision. A by-law was passed in 1960 essentially de-registering the 1856 plan of subdivision. This shows on the parcel abstract from the land registry. However, the parcel abstract from land titles shows the plan of subdivision in 1856, but no reference to the 1960 by-law de-registering the plan of subdivision. We have sold one of the 10 lots and are now unsure how to proceed – does the lack of registration in land titles mean our plan of subdivision is still valid (we purchased the land based on the land title abstract under the assumption we could sell individual lots)?

    • Hi Jesse

      It’s not really possible for me to give any sort of advice over blog comments. I would suggest that you speak to a real estate lawyer in your jurisdiction to go over the details of your situation.


  5. are they finished yet?

    • Hi George

      The last report I saw from the Director of Titles said that they have about 1% of properties to go, mostly ones that have title issues that still need to be resolved.

      Thanks for reading.


      • when it is, will there be a new law to remove registry from all LAWS/regs/rules/forms, etc etc.. May I suggest hey pass the law now, and make it go into effect the day the last document is “done with”.

      • any update? how much does it cost the province to delay this mess?

      • Hi George

        No word on when it will be finished. There are still some properties with title defects so they can’t cut the registry system yet. As for cost, I’m afraid I really have no information on that – and I would expect they won’t bother with passing a law until it’s all done with.


  6. How can you tell WHEN your property was converted to the Land Titles System?

    • You can look at the parcel register for your property, which you can get either through a real estate lawyer or directly from the Registry Office. There is a fee to get a printout but it’s a public document. Above the first line of items that are on title to your property, there will be a note stating the exact date it was converted into Land Titles.

  7. Great blog good consumer content. i did get lots of good points from here. keep up the good work.
    Phillips & Angley

  8. could you tell me when Toronto was fully converted?

    • Hi Andrew

      The reports from the Director of Titles still say that about 1% of properties in Ontario have not been converted, and I have not ever seen a breakdown of where the properties are. I know there there are some still in Toronto (I closed one not too long ago), but I don’t know how many.

      Thanks for reading!


      • Hi Cesia, thanks for the quick response.
        In regards to adverse possession, how can I tell when a a fence has been built? I just moved into a house and feel the fence line is off, am I out of luck to have it fixed if it’s deemed to be built too much on my property?

        • Hi Andrew

          Unless it required a permit, it would be hard to say. Do you have a survey? If you do, if the fence was there at the time, you would see the fence on your survey. If it’s not there, then you know at the least it was done after the date of the survey. It would have to be in place for a minimum of 10 years before your property went into land titles, so you can do a bit of sleuthing and see if you can line up those dates. Otherwise, you can talk to a real estate lawyer about further searches that might be helpful.