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Landscaping: How to avoid disputes with your neighbours

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So you’ve decided to plant a hedge to define property lines? Thinking of installing a fence or planting a tree to gain more privacy in your yard? Despite your best intentions, this type of addition can easily turn into a fencing dispute. My Legal Access Insurance team has put together a few tips to help you keep the peace with your neighbours should you decide to undertake such a project!

First, find out about the municipal bylaws in force

Before you begin any work on your land, it’s always important to check the bylaws in your municipality. Do you need a permit? Can you install a fence anywhere? Are there any restrictions on height, colour or the materials you can use? Are certain types of trees or plant species forbidden?

Locate the dividing line of your property

Before making any changes, we recommend that you consult a surveyor so that the dividing line between the adjacent properties are formally determined. Remember that using a certificate of location is not the ideal way to establish your property lines.

Find the right location for your hedge or fence

Two options are available to you:

1. Entirely on your land

Does the configuration of your land allow you to entirely install the fence or plant the hedge on your side of the dividing line? Are you willing to pay the full installation and maintenance costs for your landscaping project?

If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, you don’t need to reach an agreement with your neighbour. You can choose the type of fence or hedge you want and simply have it installed or planted. If you prefer a hedge, take into consideration that it will grow and take up more space over time and can eventually creep into your neighbour’s yard, even if it’s planted on your side of the dividing line.

2. On the dividing line of both properties

If you prefer to split the installation and maintenance costs with your neighbour or if the layout of your land forces your hand, you will have to place the hedge or fence on the dividing line between your properties.

In this case, you must come to an agreement with your neighbour on the type of fence or hedge, the installation method and the exact location.

  • If you do come to an agreement with your neighbour, Justice Québec recommends that you make sure you get an agreement in writing before you proceed. You can also register your agreement with the Land Register in order to be covered in the event that one of the properties is sold and the new owner objects to the limits and the location of the fence or hedge.
  • If your neighbour refuses to install a hedge or common fence, you may obtain a court judgement forcing him or her to cooperate. You should ideally have it delivered by registered mail or a bailiff to establish valid proof of receipt.

But before you reach that point, ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice your neighbourly relations to install a fence or plant a hedge. Don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer or mediator to find out what your rights are, help you or represent you if you are not comfortable with the process or if matters get too complicated for you.

If your neighbour still refuses to cooperate after you send a formal notice, you can think about taking legal action.

What about planting trees?

If you comply with municipal bylaws, you can plant as many trees as you want on your land. Many cities and municipalities even encourage the reforestation of residential areas.

However, avoid planting trees too close to the dividing line. This way, you won’t have to cut branches that cross into your neighbour’s land and become a serious hindrance.

No matter what kind of boundaries you opt for, remember that a good relationship with your neighbours is always more pleasant!

It doesn’t only happen to others!

Before you find yourself in this type of situation, protect yourself with Legal Access Insurance, which can prove to be very useful in a multitude of legal situations, including problems with neighbours. This comprehensive coverage is available to all La Capitale General Insurance clients for little more than $1 a week.

 

Additional resource:

Justice Québec – Being a good Neighbour


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