Neighbour Disputes: Encroaching people, trees, and smoke.

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

Sharing a property line with someone else can lead to disputes. Here's a few common neighbour disputes and what you can do about them.

Neighbours are an inevitable part of life. Unless you've managed to escape somewhere far off the grid! Sometimes, neighbours become great friends. Other times, the relationship ends in neighbour disputes.

A previous LawNow article covered common neighbour disputes and solutions, including issues about clearing snow, noise, and messy yards and garbage. In this article, we'll tackle a few more common neighbour disputes-trespassing, overhanging trees, and smoking or vaping--and what you can do about them.

Coming Onto Property Without Permission

Your kid's ball flies over the fence. Your cattle stray onto your neighbour's fields. You build a structure that encroaches on your neighbour's property. Regardless of your intentions, trespass occurs when you or something you control crosses onto someone else's property without permission and causes harm. Another previous LawNow article discusses trespass in more detail.

So, what to do? For both the trespasser and trespassed, talking to each other is always an easy, practical first step, if safe to do so. If your kid's ball goes over the fence, ask your neighbour if they can pass it back rather than just wandering into their yard. If your neighbour's cattle crossed into your fields and caused damage, talk to your neighbour about your concerns. If your neighbour built a structure that comes onto your property, you can ask them to remove it.

If talking is not safe or effective, you can call the police about the trespasser. If there are disputes about where the property line is -aka questions about whether someone or something is actually trespassing--you may need to hire a land surveyor or get advice from a lawyer.

Going to court may also be an option. An injunction is a temporary court order stopping someone from doing what they are doing. For example, if your neighbour is in the process of cutting down trees on your property, you may be able to go to court quickly to get an injunction ordering them to stop. To get an injunction against someone, you must prove three things to the court:

  1. There is a serious issue to be tried, such as a trespass.

  2. You will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted, such as loss of your trees.

  3. The balance of convenience weighs in favour of granting the injunction. In other words, the court considers who would suffer the...

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