Disputes occasionally arise between neighbours. Informal resolutions are preferable and likely to be faster and less expensive than more formal proceedings. There are bylaws, regulations, and even contracts that address potential disputes between neighbours. Some of the most common disputes between adjacent landowners relate to: noise problems; poorly maintained property; and animals.
Most municipalities have by-laws that limit noisy activity to certain times of the day or days of the week. Noise issues can arise from any number of sources, including construction, machinery, lawn maintenance, people, music or animals. Someone troubled by noise from a neighbour’s property can contact the municipality’s bylaw enforcement officer and even police. A neighbour who fails to comply with the noise control bylaw could face penalties specified in that bylaw, usually a fine.
Poorly maintained property
A poorly maintained property can affect more than just the property owner. Sometimes a poorly maintained property negatively affects neighbours as well. Municipalities have property standards bylaws that require properties to be reasonably maintained. Property owners are required to deal appropriately with garbage, weeds, and hazardous materials.
Animal-related disputes between neighbours can arise in several ways, including in relation to animal control and animal abuse.
Neighbours who own, raise or house animals are required to keep those animals under control. Bylaws may include specific and enforceable rules about leashes, muzzles and cleaning up after a pet. Bylaws may also exclude certain breeds of animals, or limit the number of animals in or on a property. A property owner who loses control of an animal can face liability under bylaws and legislation. In particular, some provinces have passed legislation that holds dog owners liable for incidents when someone is attacked by their dog.
Abusing animals is a crime. Like any crime, anyone who witnesses a neighbour abusing an animal should contact police. You may also call – or be directed to call – municipal bylaw enforcement officials or humane societies.
More information about resolving disputes with neighbours can be obtained from your local municipality, police or by seeking legal advice.
British Columbia: Neighbour Law
Trespassing on someone's property