P.E.I. further restricts land purchases by non-residents

The P.E.I. government has strengthened rules designed to prevent non-residents from buying up Island property. But the province’s real estate association says the changes are moving in the wrong direction.

Real Estate Association says law moves in the wrong direction

In order to be considered a P.E.I. resident, for the purpose of buying more than 5 acres or more than 165 feet of shoreline, people must now live in the province for 365 days over 24 months. (Parks Canada)

The P.E.I. government has strengthened rules designed to prevent non-residents from buying up Island property. But the province's real estate association says the changes are moving in the wrong direction.

For decades, the province has had limits on property that can be purchased by non-residents, who require the approval of the provincial cabinet to buy more than five acres of property, or a property containing more than 165 feet of shoreline.

Now the province has changed its definition of who qualifies as a resident. Instead of residing in the province for 183 days over the course of a year, residents must now live in the province for 365 days over 24 months.

For the first time, the province has also stipulated that to be considered a resident under the Lands Protection Act a person must be either a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant, regardless of how long they've lived in the province.

The changes, introduced in the spring sitting of the P.E.I. legislature, came into effect May 13, 2016.

A spokesperson for the department of communities, land, and environment said the move was made to provide a more precise definition of who is a resident.

Government also points out the goal of the legislation remains to protect Islanders against absentee landlords, an issue that pre-dates Confederation, and resurfaced in the 1980s, when the Lands Protection Act was first introduced.

But the Prince Edward Island Real Estate Association says the more restrictive measures are moving the law in the wrong direction.

'It's a good thing to attract new people'

"I'm not 100 per cent sure what the rationale behind the legislative change was, but it certainly will have an impact on our industry," said association president Mary Jane Webster.
Mary Jane Webster of the Prince Edward Island Real Estate Association said the changes will have an impact on the industry. (Mary Jane Webster)

"We're trying to certainly promote an industry and an environment where we welcome all new people to the Island. Demographically, if you look the way our population is trending, it's a good thing to attract new people to the Island," said Webster.

"It stimulates our economy. So to put in an additional restriction will certainly have an impact on not just our industry, but on many, I would like to think."

Records show that of the roughly 500 land purchase applications that came before the P.E.I. cabinet in 2015 from non-residents and from corporations, the vast majority were approved.

Seventeen were rejected, while 42 previous approvals were rescinded, in many cases because a purchase which had been approved did not go through.

Non-residents have to pay either $550 or one per cent of the purchase price (whichever is higher) to apply to buy property under the Lands Protection Act. If their application is rejected, 50 per cent of the fee can be refunded. If the purchase is approved, none of the fee is refunded.