Severing your land

A century ago, landowners were free to divide their property—an act called “severing” —in almost any way they wished. A land severance, also known as a consent, is the authorized separation of a parcel of land to form two or more new properties. Today it is highly regulated and requires government approval.

Municipalities must carefully consider the impact of land severances on the environment and municipal services to ensure that lot sizes and land use do not conflict with municipal planning or create a negative impact on communities.

A consent is required if you intend to sever, mortgage or enter into a property agreement for a least 21 years. A consent is also needed to create and register new rights of ways/utility easements or undertake a land swap with a neighbour (called a boundary adjustment). A consent is not required if the property is already divided by a road, railway or navigable watercourse. Obtaining a consent requires applying to your local municipality’s Land Division Committee, which is usually combined with the >Committee of Adjustment, which also grants minor variances.

Some helpful tips:

  • Before officially applying for a consent, review your sketched-out concept with the municipality’s planning department staff. They will help you determine if your plan meets planning criteria and conforms to the zoning requirements for the creation of a newly severed parcel.
  • Having a recent survey plan will help them visualize your proposal and use the dimensions shown thereon to analyze its viability.

Consents have conditions that must be fulfilled within a given time period, including a requirement to retain an Ontario Land Surveyor to prepare a Reference Plan (R-Plan) that shows the new limits of what you are creating. Once deposited at the Land Registry office, the plan is assigned a sequential identification number that identifies the severed portion of your property as one or more numbered “Parts”. Easements, buffers and other title features will also be illustrated and identified by parts shown on the Reference Plan. The new deed will refer to the “Part” numbers shown on the Reference Plan. Your surveyor will also set survey monuments on the property so the precise location of the new “Parts” can be visibly recognized.