Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, whose territory stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans and from its border of over 5,000 miles with the USA to the Arctic Circle. Three quarters of the population lives within 200 miles of the US border.
Much influenced by its economic ties to the USA, Canada also has historical links to the UK (it is a member of the British Commonwealth) and to France (French is the official language of the province of Quebec, which is three times the area of France).
Canada is a parliamentary democracy administered from Ottawa. There are 10 provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan. There are also three territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Such matters as health cover, property title and rental regulations will vary from province to province. There are also local and federal taxes.
Non-residents are able to buy property in Canada but for those who wish to live in the country there are a number of immigrant programmes including those for skilled workers, business class and family class immigrant.
Most property is held in 'fee simple' ownership. Condominiums are a special type of fee simple known as 'strata title', similar to UK commonhold and involving maintenance obligations. Most couples purchase property as a 'joint tenancy' since upon the death of one the ownership reverts to the surviving joint tenant.
Those buying property have a responsibility to use 'due diligence' to discover any patent defects. If no inspection is made, the buyer has no recourse for obvious defects that should have been spotted.
Sellers, however, must not mislead buyers about 'latent' defects that could not reasonably be expected to surface in an inspection.
Most houses are bought and sold in the spring and early summer, when prices are likely to be higher but choice greater. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, British Columbia tends to commands the highest house prices, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Manitoba the lowest.
The real estate body Re/Max, which has over 13,800 members working in 600 offices across Canada, is predicting a 6 per cent increase in house prices in 2005, with Edmonton, Quebec city, Kelowna, Halifax-Dartmouth and Vancouver leading the way.
In many cities landlords are required to use a standard rental agreement or lease which specifies such things as the number of rooms, utilities and options such as parking or storage space. The agreement will most likely be for at least one year, with tenants paying an initial payment, possibly the first and last month's rent, and perhaps a damage deposit.