Mostly I’m hired to advise on Groundwater issues but an exception would be Lakefront Property for Sale in British Columbia or perhaps other areas. I remember assisting a young couple who had at that point recently purchased a beautiful lakefront home on Shawnigan Lake in British Columbia.
The couple had only been in possession of their new Lakefront Property for two weeks when they suddenly needed to take up a new residence in a Victoria hotel because their barely lived in dream home soon ended up with no running water if you can imagine! The shiny new washing machine would take a couple of hours to fill, the showers were useless, the purchaser’s simply couldn’t live in their new home… at this point, you may be wondering why?
It was disturbing to find this couple in such a situation, it would be upsetting for any new homeowner. Immediately I contacted both their out of town real estate agent and the vendor who was also the builder of this particular house. Quickly though, I sadly realized that both the agent and the vendor/builder had been paid out, this couples dilemma suddenly seemed to be of very little concern or interest to either one of them which is highly unusual for a reputable real estate agent.
The young couple had come from the city as many do to purchase this lovely waterfront home in the country with no idea of exactly what they were getting themselves into when offering to purchase this particular Lakefront Property for Sale. When they’d called me it was because their lovely new shiny fixtures and appliances were now plugged solid with organics and mud, it was a real mess! The home’s so called “state-of-the-art water treatment system” was about as low-end and dysfunctional as one can possibly install.
The submersible pump which supplies untreated lake water to the home was just suspended right off the dock in two feet of water and muck and needless to mention without a water license. I did ask the purchasers, if they were advised to have a professional review the water system for them? They said “No” but they’d thought that it was all protected by the “Home Warranty Program” that was apparently in place. This couple certainly wouldn’t have knowing purchased this Lakefront Property for Sale “as-is-where-is” had these problems been disclosed to them, no one signs up for these classes knowingly.
Generally most waterfront homes or cabins on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and so many other areas will draw their domestic / irrigation water from a lake, river or stream… if a good source of water is available most waterfront property owners in will not go to the expense of drilling a well. Although there may also be areas in British Columbia or North America where a Lakefront Property for Sale may actually be serviced by a small water system which will also require that other operating permits are in place as well as the water license this would be an exception to the rule in most places – but regulations may differ from one place to another.
Most of the time waterfront homeowners will be independently diverting and using water, which is owned by The Crown on behalf of the people of British Columbia. In British Columbia, simply having access to surface water within or adjacent to property does not authorize a right to divert, use or store water. Authority to divert and use surface water is obtained by a water license or approval in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Water Act and the Water Protection Act. Water Rights and Legislation
Many Lakefront Properties for Sale do not have a registered water license. In British Columbia, waterfront property owners have been diverting for years and will likely continue to do so without much of a problem as it’s not unlawful for domestic purposes. As water licenses work on the basis of priority there could be situations where a waterfront property for sale without a water license might experience some serious problems as a result at some time down the road. Do not expect to find a BC Water License registered on the property title in British Columbia as they are not registered on title, you will need to contact a Regional Office.
If you’re provided a copy of a water license you may want check that the license is in fact in good standing as there are annual licensing fees payable to keep the water license in tact. It’s very important that you check the regulations in your own area, I’m from British Columbia so what I explain may not apply to everyone.
While speaking with the Ministry of Environment it was mentioned that many more purchasers of waterfront properties in British Columbia are requiring that the water source be a licensed water source. This could present a bit of a problem for the vendor, Realtor and purchaser because even the basic quick license process may take up to 140 days in British Columbia, roughly 5 months and that’s after the application has been properly submitted as required. Preparing the application will also take some time, so you can safely assume that the quick process could take as long as 6 months if everything goes as planned.
A purchaser may not be prepared to wait while the vendor of a Lakefront Property for Sale takes the time that he’ll require to remedy his situation. Mortgage lenders are also becoming more aware this statutory requirement as well as other groundwater issues that I’m encountering with increased frequency. If you don’t have a water license in place it’s possible that there could be an issue for a purchaser attempting to obtain a traditional mortgage to purchase your waterfront property as the mortgagor may approve the mortgage subject to a registered water license being intact.
There’s no point in rushing to the Ministry of Environment office with your accepted offer to purchase explaining your dilemma and expecting any mercy, it will not make any difference…. I have been processing water license applications for a few years. The Ministry of Environment has a very good system in place and there’s no reason for them to make any exceptions, the application must go through the entire process of perhaps 140 days or even longer. I had a client who was terminally ill, he’s since passed on… they didn’t make any exceptions for him either, he was literally running out of time so don’t be surprised when they hand you a Water License application!
There’s much more information for me to cover on the topic of water issues and Lakefront Property for Sale I will continue to write on surface water sources… it’s very worthy of covering extensively.