${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}

SPIS - A Potential Landmine In Real Estate Transactions

Back in 1997, the Ontario Real Estate Association introduced the Seller Property information Statement (SPIS). It's a document in which sellers voluntarily disclose information such as defects, past floods, leaks, environmental concerns and other red flags that buyers would rightly want to know before signing on the dotted line. The benefit seems clear. Yet, over the last two decades, this simple form has sparked 94 contentious court cases in Ontario alone - with unknown others settled out of court or unreported altogether.

Why The Controversy?

Sellers are not required by law to complete an SPIS. If a buyer insists on having one as a condition of sale, the seller can choose to provide it or decline and move on in the hopes of finding another, less assiduous interested party. But once a seller does fill out an SPIS, the agent or broker must thereafter, at a minimum, disclose its existence to all potential buyers - although the form itself need not be made available unless the buyer specifically requests it and the seller agrees.

Sellers fill out the form based on their best knowledge, experience - and honesty. Buyers take its contents to be accurate and reliable. But what happens if a nervous buyer backs out and the deal fails to close? Or if issues unknown at the time of signing arise after the buyer takes possession? Court history will tell you: it's a fertile ground for litigation - negligence, fraud, breach of contract, the whole nine yards.

One of the roots of the problem is that the SPIS is a beast of a form to fill - complicated, technical and ambiguous. Any ordinary homeowner would be hard pressed to complete it without the involvement of a lawyer, home inspector and possibly other specialists such as environmental experts.

The Implications

Prudent buyers ask for an SPIS. Yet, sellers are wise to avoid touching this legal hot potato unless absolutely driven by necessity - ideally only after being warned by an ethical broker of the potential legal implications unleashed upon signing.

Buying or selling?

Give us a call.

Our lawyers can help.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

shameless self promotion

  • Quinn Ross Takes Office As President Of The Ontario Bar Association

    The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) is pleased to announce Quinn Ross as the 83rd President of the OBA.

    Ross, Managing Partner of The Ross Firm, with offices in Goderich, Kincardine and Stratford, has been an active member in senior roles on the OBA board since 2012.

    Read More

  • Ross Firm Golf Tourney In Support of Huron Women’s Shelter a Swinging Success

    On behalf of the Huron Women’s Shelter and The Ross Firm P.C., we say “THANK YOU” to our many Sponsors and Donators for their outpouring of generosity and support for the annual Take a Swing Against Violence Golf Tournament held at Goderich Sunset Golf Club.

    Read More

  • Who needs a Will? You do!

    Our guests can explain why. Are you single and renting? A new Family? Or Homeowner? Enjoying your Golden Years? We all need a Will and our guest speakers will show you the why and the way.

    Read More

  • Take a Swing Against Violence

    On June 21, 2017, the Huron Women’s Shelter Second Stage Housing and Counselling Services, Board of Directors and The Ross Firm will be hosting the Taking a Swing Against Violence golf tournament at the Goderich Sunset Golf Course.

    Read More

View All

Send Us An Email. Talk To Us. We Can Help.

To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, contact The Ross Firm online or give us a call toll free at 888-567-4917.

Contact Us

Goderich Office
144 Courthouse Square
Suite 100
Goderich, ON N7A 1M9

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-524-8438
Map & Directions

Stratford Office
1 Ontario Street
2nd Floor
Stratford, ON N5A 3G7

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-814-5533
Map & Directions

Kincardine Office
943 Queen Street
Kincardine, ON N2Z 2Y8

Phone: 226-396-5532
Fax: 226-396-5533
Map & Directions