Real Estate 101 – Terminology

Real Estate

If you have dealt with a real estate lawyer in the past, there is a chance that lawyer used some unfamiliar real estate terminology without any sort of explanation of what those words and phrases mean. Real estate practitioners become so accustomed to the legalese they use that they sometimes forget that the vast majority of their clients are not well-versed in land transaction lingo. Here are a few key terms you might hear when you buy or sell property:


  • A conveyance is a transfer of an interest in land to a new owner. For example, when you sell property to a buyer, you are conveying your ownership interest in that property to that buyer.


  • Title is legal evidence of a person’s ownership rights in property. It is the legal right to control and dispose of property.


  • A charge is an interest in land that is registered on title. Examples of charges include:


  • A mortgage is an interest in land granted by the registered owner (the mortgagor) to a lender (the mortgagee) as security for a debt.


  • An easement is the right to use, or a right to restrict the use of, the land of another person (usually a neighbour) in some way.


  • A lien is a legal right or interest in land claimed to secure the payment of a debt or the performance of some other obligation. Examples include Claim of Builders Lien for payment of debt related to labour or materials, Certificate of Lien for payment of strata fees, or Tax Act Liens for payment of various taxes.

Rights of Way

  • A right of way is a right to have access to land for a specific use, often granted to a municipality or utility company in order to provide and maintain services to parcels of land.


  • Charges can also be described as encumbrances or claims.


  • A release is the cancellation of a charge or legal notation on title. For example, when a mortgage has been paid off, the mortgage endorsement is released from title. This is also known as a discharge.

Trusts and Estate Law
Lindsay Kenney LLP