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Calgary Real Estate, Wills and Estates, and Business Law Blog

When Construction Liens Must Be Registered

In the previous post, we explained how construction liens offer assurance to contractors and suppliers that they will be paid for their work or materials. In this post, we look at how liens are registered.

A construction lien exists when work starts or materials supplied for improvements on or to the land. Generally, liens for materials, services or wages must be registered within 45 days from the date of delivery of the final resources for the improvement or the project was abandoned. The lien expires automatically on abandoned projects.

Cancelling an offer or purchase agreement for a home

Agreements of Purchase and Sale are legal documents in which a purchaser makes an offer to purchase a property from a vendor. The Agreement contains a monetary offer and lists the conditions to be fulfilled before the purchase of the property is completed.

The purchaser can rescind the Agreement if the vendor has not signed the Agreement, even if the vendor had verbally agreed to the contract. The purchaser must purchase the property after the vendor signs the Agreement. The vendor can legally enforce the Agreement if the purchaser withdraws from the contract.

Highway buses require seatbelts by 2020. School buses might too.

Passenger safety on buses is a matter of great concern after the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus accident last April. Sixteen people were killed, and thirteen people were injured. Transport Canada is changing its seatbelt policies for highway buses to provide better protection for passengers. Since 1984, Transport Canada has maintained that school buses don’t need seatbelts but is now reviewing its policies regarding seat belts on school buses as well.

Transport Canada’s new seatbelt policies for medium and large highway buses, with a weight greater than 4,536 kg, take effect on September 1, 2020. Bus companies must install seatbelts on all new medium and large highway buses by then. Transport Canada set the effective date in 2020 to allow enough time for bus companies and manufacturers to make the changes. The seat belts, if worn by passengers, will reduce rollover injuries.

Can employers restrict employees’ use of personal smartphones?

Apple iOS upgrades sometimes have unexpected results. Its most recent upgrade includes Screen Time, a feature that allows iPhone users to track the amount of time they spend using their iPhone. The feature revealed some interesting statistics that may worry employers and force them to develop new employment policies.

Matthew Field, a writer for the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom, was appalled to discover that he checks his smartphone 140 times every day. He spends four hours every day using his smartphone. This is 25 per cent of his waking hours. Marie Claire, a Canadian magazine, found that 25 per cent of women in their 30s and 20 per cent of women in their 40s check their smartphones 200 times a day – once every few minutes.

What taxes should be paid after a person dies?

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin once said. But even leaving this world for the next doesn’t mean taxes can be escaped. A person who has just died still has to pay taxes on what they have left behind.

As the deceased cannot pay the taxes, their legal representative must pay them from the assets of the deceased’s estate. The executor of the estate, or a court-appointed administrator if the deceased dies intestate, must calculate, file a final tax return, and then pay any outstanding taxes to the government.

Confusion arises over employer rules about cannabis use at work

Cannabis legalization is almost here. Employers are busily preparing rules to regulate cannabis use in their workplaces. Police and other employers whose duties affect public safety are finding it particularly difficult to draft policies for cannabis use that satisfy their employees and their obligations to the public.

Both Air Canada and Calgary-based WestJet Airlines now ban cannabis use for people whose jobs affect customer safety — even when they are off-duty. Alcohol use is only restricted for certain employees for 12 hours before they go on duty.

Can employers fire employees for alcohol or drug addiction?

Employers may get frustrated when they learn an employee has an alcohol or drug addiction that adversely affects their work. But Alberta’s human rights legislation prevents employers from just firing the employee.

An employee who has an actual dependency on alcohol or drugs has a disability under Alberta human rights law. Recreational users don’t have this disability. The employer should have the employee assessed right away to see if they are genuinely disabled. If so, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for the employee. The employer doesn’t have to do this only if doing so:

Homebuyers’ heartfelt letters persuade homeowners to sell

In an era of high demand and higher bids for homes, buyers who write warm personal letters to sellers often win the bidding war and buy the house they want. This is a growing trend that some realtors say ‘must’ be part of an offer if a buyer wants to have any hope of purchasing the property.

Many sellers seriously consider any personal letters they receive with offers when deciding to whom to sell their house. Most sellers care who buys their house and are happier to sell to someone who can clearly say why they love and want to buy the property. The letters have the greatest influence on sellers who have lived in their home for a long time and want to be sure the buyers will take care of it.

Beware of capital gains tax when buying a non-resident’s property

Buying a house is very expensive. Paying capital gains tax to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the last thing a purchaser wants to do. But this happens when purchasers buy property that is owned by a non-resident of Canada without working with a lawyer experienced in these types of transactions.

Under Canadian tax law, a non-resident who sells property they own here still pays capital gains tax on any gain they make from the sale.

Human rights concerns lead to no random testing for bus drivers

The forthcoming legalization of cannabis across Canada has raised many questions amongst employers and employees alike. One of the most fierce debates has been over human rights concerns with regard to random testing for the substance. People driving or operating heavy machinery, such as oil workers and bus drivers in Alberta, have been a particular source of debate.

Many people who take public transportation in the city have wondered whether drivers for Calgary Transit and Southland Transportation would be under increased scrutiny once cannabis is legalized next month. Following an extensive review of workplace policies across Calgary, it has been announced that no changes will be made to the protocol for substance testing of bus drivers. The decision is based on the finding that current protocol is adequate and that drivers are already tested for substances as needed.

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