Q We are thinking of replacing the rusty chain link fence in our backyard. We had a survey done and found that the back fence encroached upon our backyard. What should we do?

Under common law, if someone has occupied your land for over ten years the concept of adverse possession (squatter’s rights) enters the equation as long as no one has made a claim for the misappropriated property. However, there are many rules that apply to this, including change in ownership and our Province’s move from the registry system to a land titles property registration system.

Enter in title insurance. This is now the preferred method of ensuring the land you are purchasing is without fault and if in the future it is found that there are encroachments that you were unaware of at the time of purchase, they will often fight your battle.

My urge before you go down this road is reach over the back fence, share the survey with our neighbours and hopefully you can come up with something that works for both of you.

Jeffrey D. Cowan is with Cowan & Taylor, Barristers & Solicitors. The info in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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