COVID-19: Its Impact on Real Estate Transactions


Over the past few weeks and particularly over the last few days, our commercial real estate lawyers have been communicating with our clients and industry stakeholders with respect to the impact COVID-19 could have on their impending purchases, sales, financings, existing leases and ongoing real estate development projects.

While COVID-19's effect on business continuity across the Province of Ontario continues to evolve hourly, we would like to take this opportunity to provide some guidance on these matters and to let you know what we at Torkin Manes are doing to attempt to minimize the impact of this global pandemic on our clients.

As you will be aware, on March 23, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a mandatory shutdown of all non-essential workplaces across Ontario, effective as of 11:59 PM on March 24, 2020. The list of essential businesses can be viewed here, and we are pleased to inform you that Torkin Manes remains open for business.

In recognition of the fundamental importance of "social distancing" during this unprecedented situation and with the health and safety of our lawyers, staff, clients and peers top of mind, our office has adopted a remote-working policy with almost all of our lawyers and staff working outside of the office. However, we assure you that our Commercial Real Estate Group remains fully operational and accessible. Understanding that many of our clients have also taken similar precautions, we have implemented the use of various technologies and methods, such as video conferencing and arrangements for remote execution of key transactional documents, in order to ensure that we are able to continue to meet our clients' real estate needs, so that their transactions proceed as planned.

Banks and credit unions, as well as other similar types of institutions that have been categorized as essential services, remain open and active. Indeed, we are currently working on various loans and other transactions that involve these fundamental operations and have not seen any slow-down in this respect.

While certain municipal offices responsible for carrying out off-title searches and related services have announced complete closures or remain operational at a significantly reduced capacity, thereby limiting the scope of searches that we may be able to perform in the course of transactions, Land Registry Offices for most Land Titles Divisions across Ontario remain operational and Service Ontario does not anticipate any interruption in the functionality and availability of Teraview, its electronic registration platform.

As well, various title insurers have now extended the coverage being provided under their title insurance policies in an attempt to address the inevitable interruptions that COVID-19 will cause and provide parties with the ability to complete their transactions.

Our team is closely monitoring all of these developments in order to be in a position to work with you in order to have your purchase, sale and mortgage transactions proceed and close as seamlessly as possible under the circumstances.

We in the Commercial Real Estate Group at Torkin Manes are well aware of the concerns our clients and peers have as we all navigate together through these uncertain times. Based on the information being circulated and our communication with various players in the real estate industry, we are optimistic that the real estate sector and the real estate bar across Ontario will work collaboratively to find creative and proactive solutions to the general and specific issues we are facing as an industry.

Most importantly, we are confident in our ability to guide our clients through this crisis and we encourage you to contact a member of our Real Estate Group so that we can work with you to address your real estate needs during this challenging time.

For more information about dealing with COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.