Considerations for buying property in Sun Rivers

February 22, 2021

Sun Rivers is now a well-established residential and golf development located on the Kamloops Indian Band ("KIB"). Prospective purchasers of property in Sun Rivers need to be aware that property is held as a leasehold title as opposed to the more common fee simple ownership that is used outside of First Nations land. These differences are largely only seen at the time of registration as the developers of Sun Rivers attempted to make ownership resemble fee simple as closely as possible. 

The leasehold title that a prospective purchaser of a Sun Rivers property would acquire is a prepaid 99 year term Sublease. The term of a Sublease begins from the time the Sublease was created. While the Sublease is prepaid for the 99 year term, taxes on the Sublease are still payable to KIB at a rate comparable to the City of Kamloops and are collected on the 1st day of August each year. 

Most of the financial institutions in Kamloops are familiar with the Sun Rivers development and will offer financing for Sun Rivers properties at the same or similar rates as with comparable fee simple property. 

Each Sublease belongs to a Neighbourhood Association which acts like a strata corporation but is formed under the BC Society Act, and has annual meetings, sets budgets and collects monthly fees similar to strata fees. Neighbourhood Associations have rules and guidelines which deal with issues such as the design of a home, landscaping design and maintenance and general use of a property. The rules and guidelines of a Neighbourhood Association should be reviewed by a prospective purchaser before finalizing the Contract of Purchase and Sale.

Prospective purchasers should be aware that Property Transfer Tax is payable to KIB on the purchase of a Sun Rivers property at the same rates charged by the province for fee simple land. GST is also applicable on new home construction.

The registration process differs significantly from fee simple property. KIB has its own Land Title Office which controls all transfers of Subleases in Sun Rivers. Transfer documentation must be registered with the Indian Land Registry Office in Vancouver, and this creates a delay between the date of completion and the actual date of registration. In order to mitigate risks associated with the delay, a product referred to as "Gap Insurance" is recommended to protect the purchaser and to provide some certainty of title and registration. Potential purchasers should also be aware that KIB charges filing fees for transfer documents which can be significantly higher than fees charged by the Land Title Office for fee simple property, these fees are waived if the purchaser is subject to paying Property Transfer Tax but they are applicable where the purchaser has an exemption to Property Transfer Tax (such as a First Time Home Buyer).  

If you are considering purchasing a property in Sun Rivers please call us at MJB Lawyers. We are happy to answer any of your concerns and can help you through  the purchasing process.

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