Procedures for Making a Claim

Procedures for Making a Claim under the Land Titles Clarification Act*

*Note: some of this information also applies to claims of adverse possession

The Land Titles Clarification Act (LTCA) Part I provides a legal way for land owners in 13 designated land titles clarification areas to clarify the ownership (title) to their land. This document sets out the application process and procedures. See links below for sample documents needed to support a claim under LTCA or for adverse possession).

The 13 LTCA areas are:

  1. Cherry Brook, Halifax County
  2. Drumhead, Guysborough County
  3. East Preston, Halifax County
  4. Lincolnville, Guysborough County
  5. Little Dover, Guysborough County
  6. Little Lorraine, Cape Breton County
  7. Neils Harbour-New Haven, Victoria County
  8. New Road Settlement (North Preston), Halifax County
  9. Oldham, Halifax County
  10. Sampsons Cove- Little Anse, Richmond County
  11. Seal Harbour, Guysborough County
  12. Sunnyville, Guysborough County
  13. Terence Bay and Lower Prospect, Halifax County


  1. An application for a certificate under the LTCA (or for adverse possession) is submitted to the Land Services Branch of the Department of Natural Resources. Application form.
  2. The application must include:
    1. A description of the claimed property (for example civic address, Parcel Identification Number (PID) from the land registry, Assessment Account Number (AAN) from your tax bill, location in relation to neighbouring properties); and
    2. A sketch accurately showing the location and the size of the parcel (acres or hectares). Including the names of your neighbours is helpful to locate the property. See an example of a sketch
  3. Department of Natural Resources staff review the application to make sure that the location is inside one of the designated land titles clarification areas. The department also checks to see:
    1. If the land has been registered under the Land Registration Act;
    2. If all or a portion of the property is part of an existing claim area.
    If either of these situations apply, the department will let the claimant know that the claim cannot proceed.
  4. If the application can proceed, the claimant will be asked to submit the following:
    1. Information to support the claim of ownership (use and occupation of the land to the exclusion of all others for at least 20 years):
      1. Information from the claimant: The claimant should provide an explanation of how they have used the land, over what period of years, and what steps they have taken to let people in the community know that the land is theirs. It may be necessary to obtain releases from any other persons that have used or occupied the land in common with the claimant. For example, if the claim originates with a deceased relative such as the claimant’s parents, there may be siblings who have an interest in the land as part of the estate of the deceased. [see an example of the claimants declaration].
      2. Information from an impartial community member: The claimant should provide the name of at least one person in the community (neighbour or other community member, but not relatives) who can explain how the claimant has used and occupied the land, how long they have lived there or used the land, and what the people in the community know about the claimant’s land. If only relatives are available to provide information on the claimant’s use and occupation of the land, more than one additional statutory declaration should be submitted, and the statutory declarations should provide different examples and evidence to support the claim. [see an example of the impartial statement].
      The statements from the claimant and their neighbours must be must prepared as sworn statements (statutory declaration) – given under oath. The help of a lawyer is advised for preparing the statutory declarations.
    2. An abstract of title – this is a description of all the records in the land registry that affect (or may affect) the title to the land. The help of a title searcher or lawyer will be needed to complete this. A title searcher or a lawyer will be needed to prepare the abstract of title. Contact the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society regarding free legal assistance (902-422-1491).
    3. Information on judgements and encumbrances - A statement providing information regarding any liens or mortgages or judgements or other encumbrances on the land must be provided. The help of a title searcher or lawyer will be needed to complete this. Contact the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society regarding free legal assistance (902-422-1491).
  5. It is possible that a survey plan or a drawing prepared by a Nova Scotia Land Surveyor may be needed to prove where the land is located and to provide a legal description of the land. Land Services staff will tell the claimant if a plan of survey and metes and bounds description is needed to clearly identify the location of the land. An accurate description of the land will be needed in order to proceed with the claim. Contact the DNR Director of Surveys for the name of a surveyor who will provide research and sketches for free (902-424-3145).

Review and Processing of Application

  1. Land Services staff and a Department of Justice lawyer will review the documents and determine whether the information proves the claim. All documents filed by the applicant, particularly the statutory declarations and abstract of title, will be examined carefully by the Department to discern if any other interests or claims to the land are evident. The applicant may be asked to provide additional information in support of their claim depending upon the circumstances of the claim.
  2. If the Department determines the application supports the applicant’s claim to the land, a Certificate of Claim is forwarded to the Minister of Natural Resources for approval and signature. The Certificate is then registered at the Land Registration Office in the county where the land is located.
  3. The department publishes a notice of the registration in a local newspaper, to advise anyone who claims to have an interest in the land that they have 60 days to make a claim.
  4. The department also sends the notice of registration to all adjoining / neighbouring land owners and parties who may have an interest in the land.
  5. If no one claims an interest in the land within the 60 days, the department prepares a Certificate of Title, which is signed by the Minister of Natural Resources. This Certificate provides absolute and indisputable title in fee simple, subject to any outstanding encumbrances, once registered. The Department will register the Certificate on behalf of the claimant/
  6. If someone does submit a notice to the Minster of an interest in the land, the person has another 60 days to start a proceeding in the Supreme Court. The Court then determines the extent of everyone’s interests in the land.

Costs Related to Land Titles Applications

  1. There is no application fee.
  2. The services of a lawyer or other professional (title searcher or paralegal) will be needed to prepare the statutory declaration and the abstract of title. The claimant must pay for these services, if a fee is charged. Contact the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society regarding free legal assistance (902-422-1491).
  3. If a survey is needed to establish the boundaries of the area claimed, the cost of preparing the survey must be paid by the claimant. Contact the DNR Director of Surveys for the name of a surveyor who will provide research and sketches for free (902-424-3145).
  4. The fees for recording the Certificate of Title may be waived.

Time Frame
Land Titles Clarification applications (and claims of adverse possession) take time to process; the greatest amount of time involves collecting the information required to establish the claim. This is under the control of the claimant. The department processes the claims files in the order received and as quickly as possible. Once a complete package of information, including statutory declarations, abstract of title and any required survey documents, is submitted to the Department of Natural Resources, the department makes every effort to complete the claim review process within 6 months.

Department of Natural Resources Contact
Manager, Acquisitions and Disposals
Land Services Branch, Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 698
Halifax, NS B3J 2T9