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The PYB Process™ Step 4: Learn the legal

Broaden your knowledge to understand the legal context of your boundary issue, your property rights and the property rights of others.

In this critical step, you will better comprehend your boundary issue in its legal context. You will learn about your property rights and those of your neighbours, and have a better sense of who has the law behind them.Your property rights the basics

Top six laws of the land

  1. Municipal by-laws govern your use of land, including what you can and cannot build on the land.
  2. A surveyor can provide property boundary opinions, but only a judge can authoritatively rule on boundary locations.
  3. Survey plans are a crucial tool for determining legal property boundaries.
  4. The courts have established the circumstances that produce the most certain boundaries. Be aware that deed dimensions carry the least weight in the hierarchy of evidence when assessing boundary locations.
  5. Adverse possession could impact your ownership but is seldom successful
  6. Title insurance might help you to recover proven financial loss in the event of land-title issue, but it is not a substitute for a survey plan.

Top nine common misconceptions about Ontario land law

  1. A fence marks the property line.
  2. Title insurance will compensate for any boundary-related issues with your property.
  3. The police or municipality can help with a boundary dispute.
  4. All properties have legal boundary markers at each property corner.
  5. I own the land all the way to the road.
  6. I can do and build whatever I want on my land.
  7. Nobody has any rights to my land.
  8. If I use part of your land for more than 10 years, I automatically own it.
  9. Anybody who has worked for a surveyor can tell you where your boundary is located.

Below are examples of typical boundary challenges and their common outcomes.

Disputing a boundary

Boundary disputes are often unavoidable, and frequently require legal action to resolve.

A fence is in the wrong location (i.e., not located on the property line):

  • The issue is discussed, but neither neighbour takes any further action and the status of the fence remains unresolved.
  • It turns into a formal dispute and the issue is brought to court. A judge imposes a solution.
  • The neighbours discuss and agree in writing to a mutually acceptable fence location that respects the legal property line (a survey plan can really help), resulting in a low-cost-solution for both parties.

A newly installed driveway on the next-door property significantly encroaches on your land:

  • The offending neighbour is confronted, but refuses to do anything. No further action is taken, but the situation continues to annoy you.
  • It turns into a formal dispute and is brought to court, resulting in an expensive legal solution.
  • The neighbours resolve the issue themselves, agreeing to either fix it or allow for the encroachment, and formalize the agreement.

A tree with branches is hanging over the next-door property and the neighbour cuts the branch without permission:

  • The issue is discussed, but neither neighbour takes any further action, nor maintains further communication or dialogue.
  • The disagreement turns into a formal dispute and the issue is brought to court for a ruling.
  • The neighbours amicably discuss the issue and come to an agreement on a future tree-pruning regimen.

Checklist

  • Research and learn your legal rights pertaining to your situation.