Good Boundaries Make Good Neighbours

By Linda D. Wood

When you buy a new home, your lawyer runs a title search to seek out any issues, such as a lien against the former owner, which may affect your ownership. The lawyer’s search makes sure you are the rightful owner of the property when you get the keys.

“However, your lawyer can not tell you where the boundary lines are on your property,” explains Linda Wood, real estate lawyer with Burchell MacDougall’s Elmsdale office, “They cannot tell you if your neighbour’s shed is on your land, or even if your home is completely on your property.”

That’s when you need to bring in a professional land surveyor.

“Surveyors offer two options,” she goes on, “A boundary line survey and a location certificate. A boundary line survey involves setting pins, defining corners and marking lines, and you will receive a plan showing the exact borders of your property.”

A location certificate is more common when purchasing a home, and will tell you if there are any encroachments on your property. If your neighbour’s garage is a few feet over the boundary into your yard, or if your driveway is in theirs, a location certificate will let you know.

Occasionally, buyers will rely on an existing location certificate, provided to them by the sellers; however, since the survey was not done for you, you have no recourse if the information is incorrect. It also does not include any changes made to the property since the date of the survey, so you rely on it at your own risk with no guarantee from either the sellers or the surveyor.

Both location certificates and title insurance policies are available as protection for homebuyers, and you should evaluate each option carefully when you are buying a home.

“Very often, buyers feel tapped out financially by the purchase of their home, and so they forgo a location certificate to save some money,” she goes on, “I advise clients to talk to a surveyor to find out the risks. The cost is reasonable compared to the cost of your investment in your home.”

“A location certificate lets you know ahead of time if there is a problem, and gives you the option to fix it, walk away from the sale, or simply live with it,” Linda concludes, “It’s much better than buying a new home and ending up in a dispute with your neighbour, which is the last thing anyone wants when moving into a new home.”

This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.