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Certainty in property descriptions.

Paskal Holdings Inc v Loedeman [2017] FICR 10

How certain must property descriptions be in leases?

The Alberta Court of Appeal has held that a property description in a lease of “the house and buildings only located on 10 acres more or less” was sufficiently certain to render the lease enforceable: Paskal Holdings Inc v Loedeman [2017] FICR 10.

A new owner was trying to evict an elderly couple who had sold their quarter section of land (160 acres) to a prior owner and leased back 10 acres with a house and buildings. The unregistered lease gave them a life interest but they could not sell their interest and would lose it if they left the land. The lease described the land as “the house and buildings only located on 10 acres more or less”.

The new owner argued that the description of the land was insufficiently specific for the lease to be valid but the chambers judge disagreed and held it was sufficiently certain.

The Court of Appeal held the land was described with sufficient specificity. It said the two elements in the description here of the “house and buildings” and “10 acres more or less” are not conflicting; this suggests that the description in the lease is not patently ambiguous. The dispute is about the specific boundaries of the leased land, not its identification. While some clarification as to specific boundaries may be desirable, the intentions of the parties to the lease are clear.

There is not one single correct way to describe the demised premises in a lease in order that it be valid. Some descriptions will be more reliable than others, but even a description based on a statement of area may suffice. Although ambiguity can arise when the descriptive elements are conflicting or application of a description creates uncertainties, extrinsic evidence can add certainty if it explains, but does not contradict, an existing description and fits within the parameters of the parol evidence rule

Read the full head note here: [2017] FICR 10.