Dower rights and you

If you’ve bought or sold real estate in Alberta, you may recall a short clause in both the residential listing and purchase contracts regarding Dower rights, but what does Dower really mean?

The Dower Act of Alberta has been around a long time, since 1917 in fact, and protects the rights of the spouse of a property owner – defined as a house on land. Other provinces have similar legislation under different names but all involve homestead rights. The Dower Act requires the spouse who is not on title to consent to the disposition (sale or mortgaging) of land, under certain conditions. The Act is intended to ensure a spouse’s rights to property are protected, even if they aren’t on title.

The Listing Agreement in Alberta helps to determine whether or not Dower rights apply and asking yourself the following questions will help you to understand if you need to seek legal advice on Dower application:

  • Is the person on title legally married? If not, the Act does not apply.

 

  • Is the title in one person’s name? If a property is co-owned, then no rights exist, even in the portion owned by the spouse.

 

  • Has either person resided in the property? If the answer is yes, Dower rights most likely apply and you should chat with your lawyer.

The seller’s lawyer is the one who will ultimately handle Dower rights but identifying if it is applicable and obtaining a Consent & Acknowledgement during the listing stage is vital to ensure no surprises for either party on closing.

But I’m a buyer, Dower doesn’t apply to me? True, but it can certainly affect the closing of your transaction if it wasn’t handled at the time of listing so pay attention to the Dower section of the Purchase Contract. Transactions have been delayed because the non-titled spouse heard of the transaction and filed documents to dispute the trade.

There are significant penalties for sellers who try to skirt the rules so its best to both obtain and follow legal advice on all things pertaining to Dower. As your agent, I will thoroughly go through each and every clause to make sure you both understand everything you are agreeing to and to ensure your interests are protected in conjunction with your lawyer whose legal advice provides the Dower direction. Visit me on Facebook and Google!

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