Inflation Strikes Again: Alberta Outlines Planned Increases to Land Registration Fees

On February 29, 2024, Alberta’s Minister of Finance announced Alberta’s 2024 Budget, and in connection with this announcement, the Government of Alberta published its Fiscal Plan for the 2024 – 2027 period. In this Fiscal Plan, the Province outlined their proposal for the introduction of what they are calling a new “Land Titles Registration Levy”, which appears to be largely a simple increase of the existing land registration fees. Currently, the Alberta Land Titles Office charges a base registration fee of $50 together with a variable charge of $2.00 per $5,000 of property value (for transfers of land) and $1.50 per $5,000 of principal (for mortgages). The Land Titles Registration Levy would more than double (and even triple in the case of mortgages) these variable charges to $5.00 per $5,000 for transfers and mortgages alike.

This rate hike follows a prior increase that came into effect in early 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite these two increases in relatively short succession, the cost to convey or mortgage real property in Alberta remains, by a fairly wide margin, the lowest of all comparator provinces. The below is a rough comparison of the land registration costs across some of the larger provinces in the country:

* Please note that the above are approximations, as certain municipalities in these provinces impose surcharges or offer exemptions that may alter these numbers.

Due to significant efforts in the latter half of 2023, much of the registration backlog at the Alberta Land Titles Office (which reached peak delays of up to several months) has now been eliminated. As referenced in the Province’s 2024 – 2027 Fiscal Plan, the number of registrations the Land Titles Office churned through in order to clear this backlog resulted in significant tax revenue for the Province in 2023, and the implementation of this Land Titles Registration Levy appears to be at least partially intended to offset the losses in tax revenue associated with the comparatively lower number of registrations anticipated for 2024, while also funding improved support for the LTO so that it may better handle increased demand in the future.

The Land Titles Registration Levy, though still comparatively affordable, is something that all purchasers and borrowers will need to consider and budget for going forward. The especially heavy increase to mortgage registration costs is something borrowers in particular will need to contemplate when looking to refinance their existing loans with new lenders, with these borrowers needing to weigh both (i) the increased mortgage registration costs under the Land Titles Registration, and (ii) any applicable prepayment penalties associated with closing out their mortgage with their existing lender.

While neither the Province’s Budget nor its Fiscal Plan specify precisely when the new Land Titles Registration Levy will come into effect, the Province does note that legislation implementing these changes and introducing the effective date is expected to be brought forward in the spring of 2024. Given the Fiscal Plan also outlines anticipated increased tax revenue of $45 million for the 2024-25 period attributable to the new Land Titles Registration Levy, it’s reasonable to anticipate that the Levy will come into effect later this year or in early 2025.

We are pleased to answer any questions you may have in respect of the upcoming Land Titles Registration Levy, simply contact the authors of this blog or another member of Lawson Lundell LLP’s Real Estate Group.


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