Rights Within Your Property: Did you know?

AuthorFeng, Judy

Your property rights when it comes to property boundaries, fences, airspace, peaceful enjoyment, and encroachments.

Ever wonder whether your fence defines property boundaries and whether there are laws about fences? Do you know what you own and control on your property? How about neighborhood noises... are there laws that deal with disturbances such as barking dogs, parties and loud people? Do you know what your rights are when there are things encroaching or intruding onto your property? Here's a brief introduction to some of your rights with respect to your own property that you may or may not know about.

Did you know #1: There is more to property boundaries than just the fence

One might think that property boundaries are established by a fence, and one owns and can use all that is within it. Fences are often a physical marker for property boundaries. But there is more to property boundaries than just fences.

As a starting point, a Certificate of Title describes the location of legal property boundaries. There may be encumbrances, liens and interests registered on title affecting the property. For example, your municipality may have a utility right of way registered on title, which is an agreement that allows them to use your land in some way. That's why it's important to know what's on your Certificate of Title and all registered documents on title.

Furthermore, disputes can happen where there is uncertainty over boundaries. For example, when physical boundaries established by fences don't match the legal boundaries described in the Certificate of Title. Whenever you are dealing with uncertainty or disputes about property boundaries, you should get legal advice.

Did you know #2: Speaking of fences, there's laws about those too

Speaking of fences, there are laws in each province about building them and who is responsible for paying for them. In Alberta, the Line Fence Act has limited application as it only applies to fences designed to keep livestock out of adjoining land. The Act says that when two owners or occupiers of an adjoining property want to build a fence for the common advantage of both of them, they are to equally share the costs of construction, maintenance and repairs. Let's say the Act applies to your situation and you have a dispute with your neighbour about a fence's quality, property location, or the money to maintain or repair it. Under the Act, such fence disputes can be referred to arbitration.

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