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Want to protect your view? Get it in writing

By Robert Hof

When you buy a home from a developer expecting to keep your view in the years ahead, get it in writing. An interesting case in an Ottawa development shows what can happen if you don’t.

Some people who bought new homes from Monarch Corp. in the Sandgate Ridge community in Nepean are upset because of plans by Monarch to rezone greenspace behind their homes. Monarch wants to build 11 more homes, just behind the fifth tee of the Stonebridge Golf and Country Club. The owners claim that they paid a premium for their lots, in some cases $100,000 more than for other homes in the development because of promises made by Monarch the land would not be developed. The reason they purchased was specifically for the tranquility that these lots offered.

View my yard

In most cases when you buy a new home, the developer cannot make these kinds of guarantees, often because they do not own all of the surrounding lands and they have no control over what neighbouring owners might apply for in the future.

If you’re a buyer, look around the development and try to imagine what might happen. For example, if your neighbour decided to build a second storey addition, how would that affect you? There is also the possibility a developer could buy neighbouring old homes and apply to build a condo. Is there vacant land nearby? Then go to City Hall and ask whether anyone has applied to re-zone the land in your area. A rezoning application takes time, and there are opportunities for the neighbours to object. For example, the Stonebridge Community Association submitted a letter to the City of Ottawa in opposition to the Monarch plan, raising traffic and safety concerns.

Still, there is no guarantee that these homeowners will be successful, if the application by Monarch makes sense. For the city, new homes mean more fees and taxes in the future from the new owners. The home owners may decide to sue Monarch, but if they do not have anything in writing, it will be difficult for them to win.

Do your research before buying and you should have the comfort of enjoying your home and the surroundings for a long time.

Just don’t expect any guarantees.

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