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Being a Good Neighbour
The Civil Code of Québec states that neighbours must accept normal neighbourhood annoyances. However, it also states that such annoyances must not go beyond the limits of normal tolerance. No one need suffer harm because of the ill will, bad faith or gross negligence of a neighbour.
The provisions of the Civil Code of Québec that concern these matters are intended to keep relations between neighbours as harmonious as possible.
limits and boundary determinations
limits of a property are determined by titles of ownership, cadastral
plans and boundary lines. Boundary lines are generally determined by
reference marks, which are planted by a land surveyor at the edges of the
property and bear his name and registration number. Thus, reference marks
are what indicates a property's limits.
staking of a property translates a land surveyor's opinion as to the
property's limits. The land surveyor surveys the land, studies the titles
of ownership and the cadastre, and then, among other things, expresses an
opinion in the certificate of localization you obtain when you purchase a
staking does not have the same legal value as a determination of the
boundaries. If either of the neighbours believes that the stakes do not
accurately reflect the limits of their respective properties, each of them
may require the other to have the dividing line between their properties
rectified. Three scenarios may occur.
and your neighbour agree on the need to have the boundaries between your
properties determined and on the choice of a land surveyor.
you and your neighbour accept the conclusions of the land surveyor's
report, he will invite both of you to attend, if you desire, the placing
of boundary markers.
surveyor then drafts the minutes of the boundary determination, which are
recorded in the land register.
and your neighbour share equally in paying the land surveyor's
and your neighbour agree on the necessity of having a boundary
determination carried out and on the choice of a land surveyor, but not on
the conclusions of the land surveyor's report.
such a case, the court determines the dividing line between your
properties. Either you or your neighbour may submit the surveyor's report
to the court clerk, together with the statement of claim. In Québec,
the Superior Court has jurisdiction in such matters.
the complexity of cases of this type, you will usually wish to hire an
attorney. As well, there are often long delays, and the amount of the
costs varies according to the circumstances.
the court renders its decision, both you and your neighbour share equally
in the boundary determination costs.
neighbour refuses to acknowledge the need for a boundary determination.
such a case, you must send your neighbour a demand letter. You may act
alone or through an attorney.
demand to have the boundaries determined is made by serving a notice
for a boundary determination and the reasons for it;
of the lands in question;
the name and
address of the land surveyor whom you suggest for the boundary
the effect that an agreement concerning the right to have the boundaries
determined and the choice of a land surveyor must be reached within 15
days, failing which you will take your request before the court.
after receiving the demand letter, your neighbour consents to a boundary
determination and comes to an agreement with you on the choice of a land
surveyor, you proceed as described in the First scenario or Second
despite receiving the demand letter, your neighbour refuses to consent to
a boundary determination, you may take your case to Superior Court, which
will take charge of the matter.
A GOOD NEIGHBOUR MEANS BEING CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS!
a good neighbour, like being polite, means keeping many different things
in mind. Some of them are described below.
to your property
must allow a neighbour access to your property if he needs such access for
construction or repair work on his property. However, he must first notify
you verbally or in writing. He must also repair any damage he may cause,
and must restore your property to the condition it was in before he began
the best of neighbours may become involved
in mishaps or incidents beyond anyone's control. For example, the
wind may blow the roof off a house and onto the neighbour's property; a
cow may jump several fences and end up three properties away. In such
cases, if the owner of the land on which the objects or animals end up
does not immediately return them to their owner, he must allow the owner
to search for and recovery them. These objects or animals continue to
belong to their original owner, unless he abandons his search, in which
case they may become the property of the owner of the land. Otherwise, the
owner of the land may force the owner of the objects or animals to remove
them and to restore the land to its prior condition.
a person acting in good faith may erect a structure on a parcel of land
that belongs to his neighbour. In such a case, the neighbour may request
that the person who erected the structure either purchase the parcel
of land, or pay compensation for the temporary loss of the use of
the land for the period during which the structure remains standing.
the person's encroachment is considerable or was carried out in bad faith,
the person's neighbour may force him either to purchase the parcel of land
at its full value, or remove the structure and restore the land to its
aspect of feeling "at home" is being safe from the prying eyes
of neighbours. For this reason, the Civil Code of Québec states hat
certain distances with respect to windows or other openings must be
person may have direct views-windows or doors with transparent glass-less
than 1.50 metre from the dividing line between two properties. This does
not apply to views onto public thoroughfares or public parks, or to
paneled doors with translucent glass (glass through which objects cannot
be clearly distinguished).
some cases, the owner of a parcel of land has no access to a public road
or his access is inadequate or impassable. If you are in this position,
you may request that a neighbour grant you a right of way in return for
compensation that is proportionate to any damage you may cause. You must
see to the upkeep of the land and ensure that any damage is kept to an
the neighbour refuses to grant you a right of way, you may take your case
running off a roof
must ensure that water, snow or ice from your roof falls on your land
only, not on your neighbour's. Where necessary, your neighbour may force
you to install a drain pipe in order to keep water from falling on his
may enclose your land in any way you wish, by means of walls, ditches,
hedges, barriers or any other type of fence. If the fence is situated
entirely on your land, that is, not on the dividing line between two
properties, you are completely free to choose the type of fence, its
height and colour, and the materials from which to build it. You must,
however, comply with the municipal by-laws applicable in these matters.
and your neighbour may agree to install, on the dividing line, a common
fence (see below) at a cost to be shared by both of you. In such a case,
both of you decide together on what type of fence to put up, what
materials to use and what accessories to add.
the Civil Code of Québec stipulates that a fence must take into
account "the situation and use made of the premises" (Civil Code
of Québec, article 1002). For example, a cattle fence must be installed
in a neighbourhood where the other property owners have planted shrub
hedges. And of course, the municipal by-laws apply in this instance as
if your neighbour is reluctant, it is possible for you to oblige him to
pay half the cost of installing a fence on the dividing line. But do
attempt to reach an agreement with him first.
if erected by only one property owner, a fence situated on the dividing
line between two properties is presumed to be a common fence, which means
that it is considered the common property of both property owners.
wall that is shared by and that separates two buildings is also presumed
to be a common wall. Where two buildings are of unequal height, the wall
ceases to be common at the highest point of the lower building.
cost of maintaining repairing and rebuilding a common wall must be borne
by both property owners.
owner may surrender his right to the wall, thus freeing himself from the
obligation of contributing to such costs, by filing a notice to that
effect with the registry office and sending a copy to the other land
owner. The notice means that the owner gives up his right to make use of
the branches or roots of one of your trees extend over onto the
neighbour's property and cause him major problems, the neighbour may
request that you cut back the branches or roots. If you refuse, he may
file an injunction compelling you to do so, provided that he has first
sent you a demand letter. If one of your trees is threatening to fall onto
the neighbour's property, the neighbour may, through the same procedure,
compel you to cut the tree down or to shore it up.
When planting trees on your property, avoid planting them under electrical or telephone lines or above underground cables or pipes. Trees that you plant should also be a good distance from the dividing line between two properties, so that neighbours will not be bothered by trees that have grown too big.
person may subject his neighbour to intolerable noise. Many municipalities
have set a limit on the number of decibels allowed, and impose fines for
violations. For instance, if the constant, annoying drone of your
ventilation system or heat pump prevents your neighbours from sleeping,
you will have to correct the situation. Similarly, if your dog barks
loudly or howls at night, you may be forced to have it trained, or to
dispose of it.
masculine form used refers to either sex.
2nd quarter 1999. Gouvernement
du Québec - Ministère de la Justice.