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Alberta Legal Blog

Squatter ordered to move from driveway of rental real estate

From laws concerning property to those governing employment and business matters, landlords often have a variety of legal concerns and questions. This is especially true when something goes wrong with a tenant living in rented home or apartment. An Alberta landlord recently won a court battle involving a real estate dispute with a squatter who was living in a shack on his driveway after a break-up with a former tenant.

The squatter, a 54-year-old man, was the common-law partner of the person previously renting the landlord's five-bedroom home. He moved into the property 18 months prior after being involved in a car accident. Following the break-up, he built a wooden shack on the driveway and continued to live there. Although his ex-partner vacated the property on September 30 and the landlord had rented it to a new tenant, the squatter refused to move. 

Longer lifespans should be considered in estate planning

Recent statistics show that people in Canada are living longer. This reality has changed how wealthy Alberta residents prepare for retirement or consider estate planning. Many continue to have an active life of travel and socializing well into their 80s, which may mean major financial adjustments. Others may plan to be active longer than their bodies allow. How can plans adjust to these unforeseen circumstances?

Currently, 1.6 million Canadians are over the age of 75. This figure is expected to grow to 3.3 million by 2036. Longer life spans must be considered as people retire and age in the future. For example, many people in their 70s are considering more aggressive investment portfolios as they may be alive for decades longer. This is a change from the past when people at this age preferred conservative portfolios.

New real estate law seeks to protect condominium buyers

Purchasing a home can be challenging for anyone, but condominiums come with a unique set of considerations and concerns. Many Alberta residents who consider purchasing a condo are caught off guard by issues such as occupancy dates, rising condo fees and deposits. Real estate regulators in Alberta are seeking to clarify these issues with new rules designed to protect people buying new and converted condominiums.

In Dec. 2014, the Condominium Property Amendment Act was passed by the Alberta legislature. The government has been working to enact the measures in the Act to bring over 50 amendments to Albertans. This is the first phase of rules affecting condominium boards. Some rules will be enacted on Jan. 1, while others will start on April 1, 2018.

Alberta to institute changes to economic immigration program

Policies regarding immigration are influenced a great deal by the labour needs and economic status of a province. In Alberta, the economic immigration program called the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is being simplified to allow for increased efficiency to better serve Alberta's growing economy. The goal of this simplification is to allow employers and workers an easier path through the provincial system in response to increasing labour market needs.

Currently, there are multiple AINP streams and subcategories. Starting January 2, these will be consolidated. In the simplified system, applicants will need to show they have a job that an Alberta resident could not fill. The reformed immigration program will include yearly caps on applicants based on sector and occupation in order to distribute workers effectively. The number of total nominations will remain capped at 5,500 and will not increase as a result of this change.

Business gets warning on trademark use from Edmonton Oilers

Restaurant and bar owners have a number of federal, provincial and local laws to consider in their operations. Among these is a requirement that they adhere to certain trademark laws when using special events or sports teams to promote their business. A recent dispute with the legal arm of the Edmonton Oilers left one Alberta bar owner without the ability to use the National Hockey League team in any promotions.

The issue arose when the team told the bar owner, who only sells Alberta craft beer, that he could not use the team name in promotions unless he agreed to carry Molson products. Molson is an official sponsorship partner of the team. The bar owner was informed that if he agreed to carry Molson products, he could use the team's logo and would have access to tickets and team products for promotions.

Conference answers common questions about employment and cannabis

The impending legalization of marijuana has raised a number of questions for people across the country. A recent conference in Alberta, 'Cannabis at Work,' broached the topic for employers seeking more information on the subject. Employers say the drug is being used by an increasing number of employees for medical reasons. They also have questions about the implications of legalization and how the drug may affect employment issues such as worker safety and productivity.

The sold-out conference took place on Monday, Oct. 2. Topics included the medicinal uses of marijuana, different compounds in cannabis and how people are affected by the drug. Employers also learned the difference between THC and CBD cannabis. The latter is used to treat many conditions and has no psychoactive effects -- a fact of which many employers were not aware.

Part Two: Legal Tips For Buying Real Estate In The United States

There are many misconceptions about how the IRS taxes foreign-owned property when is is transferred as part of an estate. Alberta residents who own or are considering purchasing real estate south of the border should educate themselves about how the laws apply to them. Taxation and will preparation are two of the most common challenges people face in when estate planning with real estate in the United States.

Many Canadians believe that an estate will not be taxed in the United States if their estate is worth under $5.43 million. While this exemption does exist for American citizens and residents, Canadians with vacation homes in the United States are taxed under different rules. As a result, a tax return must be filed with the IRS for any assets worth US$60,000 or more. Canadians are then given a prorated tax credit based on what percentage of the total estate the U.S. property encompasses.

Part one: Legal tips for buying real estate in the United States

Many Canadians purchase vacation homes in the United States. Alberta individuals who own or are considering buying real estate south of the border should know what tax and estate planning implications are involved with such a purchase. This two-part series will describe what Canadians should know about owning property in the United States.

Canadians who wish to rent out their U.S. vacation homes should be aware of the taxes they may owe in both Canada and the United States. Income which is earned in the United States must be declared to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as well as to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). A tax treaty between Canada and the United States allows most Alberta-based landlords to claim a foreign tax credit in order to reduce taxes owed in Canada. The IRS puts a 30 percent withholding tax on all foreign-owned income-generating properties, but real estate investors may have deductible expenses related to the maintenance of the rental property which can lower these costs.

Lawmakers now limited in use of taxpayer-subsidized real estate

Those holding political office sometimes receive subsidized housing as part of their compensation package. Controversy recently emerged when a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta rented out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb. Alberta lawmakers have approved a motion that would limit how lawmakers can use subsidized real estate in the future.

Due to the backlash, the MLA who rented his condo on Airbnb paid money back to the government. He also resigned from the party caucus after multiple controversies, including the rental issue. To avoid future missteps, the loophole which allowed the MLA to rent his taxpayer-subsidized apartment has been closed by concerned politicians. The politicians involved in the new legislation say that having clear rules in place is important to make sure taxpayer money is spent responsibly.

Business and consumer interests discuss consumer protection laws

Most people want businesses and consumers to be protected from fraud under the law. In Alberta, the government is seeking feedback on changes to consumer protection laws in the province. Albertans can offer their opinion on fifteen consumer protection topics through an online survey, including door-to-door sales, warranties, debt collection and truth in pricing. Public information sessions will also be held to better understand business interests and consumer concerns.

Currently, consumer protections in Alberta stem from the Fair Trading Act. Small adjustments have been made to the Act over time, such as the banning of door-to-door energy equipment sales earlier this year. However, major revisions have not taken place for almost twenty years.

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