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Real Estate Legal Terminology - Minor Variance

You have probably heard the real estate legal terminology "minor variance" from time to time. Once thing to know right away is that the term "minor" is not always taken literally. It refers to a request made of the local municipality to make a variance of a by-law that may be necessary to make a change or bring a present condition into being legal.

A simple example of this may be that a current legal bylaw requires that a home be situated 4 feet from a property line. Should the home be only 3 feet then it would require a "minor variance" of 1 foot, which for all intents and purposes would be granted since no one would require or expect the home or the lot line to be moved.

The most significant thing in this case is the application fee, which is about $300 together with attendance at a regularly scheduled hearing. Where a "minor variance" would not be taken as literal terminology is in the case of a severance to create a lot that is say - 30 feet wide when the by-law requires 50 feet. In this case a 20-foot variance may seem "major" however if the lots in the surrounding area were 30 - 35 feet then the variance would likely be granted.

When buying a home that may require a variance it is best to obtain legal advise and your real estate agent may refer you also to professionals that deal with planning issues.

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