What is an SPIS (Seller Property Information Statement)?
When you sell a property, you have a legal obligation to disclose information to a buyer about items that are not readily visible that would affect a reasonable person’s decision to buy your property. For example, a broken window pane may not need to be disclosed as a buyer should observe it upon inspection; however, a finished basement with a history of leaks or a foundation crack should be disclosed.
When we visit with a seller, we make every effort to examine the home and ask relevant questions about its history to try and learn as much as possible about the property to ensure we can disclose necessary information to a buyer. To aid realtors in this process, some real estate associations created a questionnaire form that looks for answers from a seller regarding their property.
Thus, the Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS) was born in Ontario. For a time, all was good. Sellers would answer the questionnaire in their own words and then sign the form and give it to buyers. Over the years, the form evolved to ask more and more questions of a seller. Today, the form has become long enough and complicated enough that many lawyers acting for sellers will recommend that the seller not complete the form for fear that the seller will answer incorrectly whether by intent or by accident. Incorrect answers could affect future litigation and may limit the ability of a buyer to get title insurance coverage which in turn could affect the ability of a buyer to close on a property sale.
The end result? Realtors working for buyers will often still ask for the seller to provide an SPIS to be completed while mostly expecting that the seller will refuse. Usually, the seller does indeed refuse.
Of note is that SPIS forms were often not used unless the property was an owner-occupied home. Also, the form noted that any answers supplied were to the best of the seller’s knowledge and belief, but the answers were not guaranteed.
Whether you get an SPIS from a seller or not, remember that as a buyer, it is up to you to verify the information and do your due diligence during the purchase process. It’s mostly buyer beware – so let us help
Here are the questions that were contained on the last iteration of the form. These are always good questions to ask when buying a home! Remember, only statements made in writing hold weight!
1. I have occupied the property from __________ to ____________
2. Does any other party have an ownership or spousal interest in the property?
3. Is the property a condominium or a freehold property that includes an interest in a common elements condominium, (POTL)?
4. Does ownership of this property require membership in an Association and payment of association fees? If yes, specify
5. Is the property subject to first right of refusal, option, lease, rental agreement or other listing?
6. Are there any encroachments, registered easements, or rights-of way?
7. Is there a plan of survey? Date of Survey_______
8. Are there any disputes concerning the boundaries of the property?
9. Are you aware of any non-compliance with zoning regulations?
10. Are you aware of any pending developments, projects or rezoning applications in the neighbourhood?
11. Are there any public projects planned for the neighbourhood? eg: road widenings, new highways, expropriations etc.
12. Are there any restrictive covenants that run with the land?
13. Are there any drainage restrictions?
14. Are there any local levies or unusual taxes being charged at the present time or contemplated? If so, at what cost?________________ Expiry date_______________
15. Have you received any notice, claim, work order or deficiency notice affecting the property from any person or any public body?
16. (a) Is the property connected to municipal water?
(b) Is the property connected to municipal sewer?
17. Are there any current or pending Heritage restrictions for the property or the area?
18. Are there any conditional sales contracts, leases, rental agreements or service contracts? eg: furnace, alarm system, hot water tank, propane tank, etc. Specify:__________________________________________
Are they assignable or will they be discharged?
19. Are there any defects in any appliances or equipment included with the property?
20. Do you know the approximate age of the building(s)? Age________________
Any additions: Age____________________
21. Are you aware of any past or pending claims under the Tarion Warranty Corporation (formerly ONHWP)? Tarion Warranty Corporation/ONHWP Registration No______________________
22. Will the sale of this property be subject to HST?
1. Are you aware of possible environmental problems or soil contamination of any kin on the property or in the immediate area? Eg: radon gas, toxic waste, underground gasoline or fuel tanks etc.
2. Are there any existing or proposed waste dumps, disposal sites or land fills in the immediate area?
3. Are there any hydro generating projects planned for the immediate area? eg: Wind Turbines
4. Is the property subject to flooding?
5. Is the property under the jurisdiction of any Conservation Authority or Commission?
6. Are you aware of any excessive erosion, settling, slippage, sliding or other soil problems?
7. Does the property have any abandoned or de-commissioned well, septic system, swimming pool, foundation, other?
8. (a) Is there a fuel oil tank on the property? If yes, complete the following:
___ Underground, Date for required upgrading or removal ________
___ Aboveground, Age of tank______ Date of last inspection _____________
(b) Does the fuel oil tank comply with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority requirements and any other requirements for fuel to be delivered?
9. Has the use of the property ever been for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances?
Improvements and Structural
1. Are you aware of any structural problems?
2 (a) Have you made any renovations, additions or improvements to the property?
(b) Was a building permit obtained?
(c) Has the final building inspection been approved or has a final occupancy permit been obtained?
3. To the best of your knowledge have the building(s) ever contained ureaformaldehyde insulation?
4. Is there vermiculite insulation on the property? If yes, has it been tested for asbestos?
5. (a) Are you aware of any deficiencies or non-compliance with the Ontario Fire Code?
(b) Is your property equipped with operational smoke detectors?
(c) is the property equipped with operational carbon monoxide detectors?
6 (a) Is the woodstove(s)/Chimney(s)/Fireplace(s)/insert(s) in good working order?
(b) Has the wood energy system been WETT inspected? (Wood Energy Technology Transfer)
7. Are you aware of any problems with the central air conditioning system?
8. Are you aware of any problems with the heating system?
9 (a) Are you aware of any moisture and/or water problems?
(b) Are you aware of any roof leakage or unrepaired damage? Age of roof covering_______
c) Are you aware of any damage due to wind, fire, flood, insects, termites, rodents, pets or wood rot?
(d) Have any repairs been carried out to correct an past or present problems related to a, b, or c?
10 (a) Are you aware of any problems with the electrical system? Size of service_________
(b) Type of wiring: ___ Copper ___ Aluminium ____ Knob and tube _____ Other
11. Are you aware of any problems with the plumbing system?
12 Is there any lead, galvanized metal or cast iron plumbing on the property?
13. Are you aware of any problems with the swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, jet bathtub, or lawn sprinkler system?
Water Supply and Waste Disposal
1. (a) What is your water source?
Municipal, Drilled, Bored, Dug, Cistern, Lake, Community, Shared or Other ________________
(b) If your water source is Community/Shared, is there a transferrable written agreement?
(c) Are you aware of any problem re: quantity of water?
(d) Are you aware of any problems re: quality of water?
(e) Do you have any water treatment devices?
(f) Is your water system operable year round? Heated lines? Yes___ No___
(g) Date and result of most recent water test
(h) Are any documents available for the well?
(i) Does the property have any abandoned well (s)?
2.(a) What kind of sewage disposal system services the property?
Municipal, Septic tank with tile bed, holding tank, Other
(b) Are you aware of any problems with the sewage system?
Date septic/holding tank last pumped______________ Age of system _____________
(c) What documentation for the sewage system is available?
Use Permit, Location Sketch, Maintenance Records, Inspection Certificate, Other ______________
3. Are all the well(s), water line(s) and waste disposal system(s) within the boundaries of the subject property?
Access, Shoreline, Utilities
1.(a) Is the property access by municipal road? If yes, ___ Open all year ____ Seasonally open
(b) Is the property serviced by a private road? Cost $ per year
2. If your access is across private property, access is Right of Way, Deeded, Other Cost $per year
3. (a) If water access only access is: Deeded, Leased, Other
(b) Water access cost of: Parking ________ Dock ________ per year
4. (a)Is the original Shore Road Allowance owned?
(b) Are there any pending application for shoreline improvement?
(c) Are there any disputes concerning the shoreline or improvements on the shoreline?
(d) Are there any structures or docks on the original Shore Road Allowance?
(e) Is the original Road Allowance included in the lot size?
5. Does the boundary of the property extend beyond the water line?
6 (a) Is hydro available to the property?
(b) Is the owner responsible for the installation, replacement/maintenance of any utility poles/equipment?