Neighbor Disputes in Edmonton – When to Seek Legal Action

Posted by heritagelaw on Oct 17, 2021 in Blog, Real Estate Law

When you live in Edmonton, it’s likely that you have to deal with your neighbors in some capacity.

Hopefully, these dealings are pleasant and friendly but differences in lifestyle, misunderstandings and other factors may lead to neighbor disputes.

How far these disputes go depends on your unique situation but it helps to know what steps to take and when to seek legal action against your neighbor.

Before we talk about legal action, let’s look at some common neighbor disputes you may encounter in your Edmonton neighborhood:

Common Neighbor Disputes

Two displeased male neighbors talking through wooden fence

Noise Problems

One of the most common disputes between neighbors is the issue of noise. Noise problems can be caused by a variety of things such as people, animals, and even machinery.

Most municipalities have by-laws that stipulate when and how much noise is acceptable.

Immediate noise problems can be addressed by the police. However, if the noise is ongoing, you may have to call a municipal by-law enforcement offer to inspect the situation.

If your neighbor’s noise levels exceed what is allowable according to municipal by-laws, the person may be fined.

Improperly Maintained Property

Not everyone has a perfectly groomed yard and professionally maintained landscape but sometimes a neighbor can be so untidy that their lawn or garage interferes with others in the neighborhood.

Most municipalities also have by-laws that dictate how a property must be maintained. Just like a noise complaint, you can contact a by-law enforcement officer to inspect the area in question.

If there is a violation of the by-law, the person responsible may receive a fine or charges.

Property Boundary Disputes

Neighbors sometimes argue over property boundaries such as who owns which specific piece of the land. This can come into play when it comes to landscaping, building a fence, trespassing, etc.

Property surveys are helpful in determining boundary lines. So, prior to building a fence, for example, the survey should be updated to reflect the boundary lines’ accuracy.

If it’s not possible to acquire an updated property survey, a property owner may file a quiet title lawsuit and request that a judge determine the boundary lines.

To avoid the costs and hassle of property surveys and lawsuits, you can simply agree on a physical object (such as a fence) to serve as the boundary line between your properties. Each owner would then sign a quitclaim deed to make it official.

In the end, if a property boundary dispute cannot be resolved, you hire the services of a real estate lawyer and take your neighbor to court.

Harassment

If you have a neighbor who harasses you or someone in your family, you need to take the appropriate actions such as contacting law enforcement. 

By law, harassment is defined as communication deemed derogatory or offensive, threats of assault or violence, offensive physical touching, and repeated acts of intentional alarming or annoying behavior.

Examples of this include loud music, pestering your pets, and disturbing your peace.

In some cases, you may be able to sue your neighbor for harassment by taking your issues to small claims court. A qualified attorney can help you gather evidence to address the issue in court.

Animal Issues

The most common problems with pets in a neighborhood are animal attacks, excessive noise, property issues (not picking up after their animal), and animal abuse.

In the case of animal attacks or animal abuse, this is an issue for law enforcement and animal control. Police should be immediately notified in either situation and the owner could be fined or charged criminally for negligence.

When it comes to noise and animal messes, these would fall under the municipality’s by-law regarding noise and cleaning up after pets. Those who do not comply with the by-laws can face a fine.

Of course, if you or a member of your family (or even your pet) are attacked by a neighbor’s animal on your property, you can sue for damages. If the event occurs on your neighbor’s property while trespassing (i.e., you were not invited over), you are not likely to succeed in court.

When to Seek Legal Action Against a Neighbor

Lawyer present client with papers on the table in office.

Before you contact a lawyer and try to haul your neighbor to court over a dispute or issue, it’s helpful to take certain steps to see if you can resolve the problem civilly.

Talking to Your Neighbor and Filing a Complaint

Before you report your concern to a by-law enforcement officer, try to have a conversation with your neighbor. It could be that they were not aware that their actions and behaviors were affecting you and the issue may end immediately.

However, even if you do have a discussion with your neighbor, be sure to record the address of the violation and a description of the problem in case the issue does not get resolved.

In order to make a complaint, call 311 or submit your complaint online. It’s important to provide your name, address, phone number, and the details of your concern should your testimony be required in court.

Responding to Your Complaint

Once your complaint is received, the city will create a file specifying your concerns and have an officer open an investigation. The officer may issue a warning to the neighbor to fix the problems within a certain timeframe or issue a fine immediately.

If the city takes your neighbor to court regarding these issues, you may have to appear as a witness.

Typically, however, your involvement ends with submitting a complaint. However, there are instances where you can take your neighbor to court and seek legal action.

Taking Your Neighbor To Court

If you bring up the issue with the neighbor and have the city intervene yet nothing gets resolved, a lawsuit may be effective.

This will force your neighbor to stop their actions and behaviors by having them compensate you with money damages for your troubles or issuing an injunction against them so they legally have to stop.

The court will consider taking the following into consideration:

  • Was the conduct harmful to your health?
  • Was the conduct indecent or offensive to the sense?
  • Did the conduct obstruct the free use of your property?
  • Does the harm outweigh the public benefit of the harmful conduct?

Before you seek legal action against your neighbor in Edmonton, it’s important to speak with a professional attorney first.

Our team at Heritage Law will help you address your neighbor-related issues and determine if you have a case before wasting your precious time and resources.

If you’re having an issue with a neighbor, book your appointment today.