The Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS) continues to be the single most dangerous document in current use in the real estate market.
Since 1997, when the form first came into use, there have been 94 reported Ontario court cases centred on the document. Across the country, the total exceeds 250.
Many more have been settled or are unreported.
More than one judge has written that the SPIS presents a ripe ground for litigation.
In a 2007 decision in the case of Kauffman v. Gibson, Justice Gordon Killeen wrote, “It seems that, in the past 10 years or so . . . voluntary disclosure statements . . . have been adopted by real estate boards across Canada. Almost inevitably, they have given rise to litigation over their meaning and reach.”
The latest reported Ontario decision was released last October and concerned a failed real estate transaction. In November, 2011, Gregory Parsons and Jennifer Feeney signed an agreement with Christian Menard to buy his home in Embrun, Ont., for $420,000.
The property had been built on a discontinued landfill site. A condition in the agreement required the sellers to provide an SPIS.