What is considered my property when I own a home?
For many people, taking possession of a home is thought to be the ultimate achievement of independence and self-reliance. It is an exciting time, but it can be easy to miss some of the finer points of home ownership. One such aspect is the definition of property– just what physical area is considered your home? Subjectively, home can mean almost anything to anyone; objectively, the law has strict definitions of what belongs to whom. If you are curious about what is considered your property when buying a home, keep reading for Heritage Law’s quick and easy definitions of common issues.
Property boundaries are easy to access in most places you would plan to buy a home, often available to the public for free or a small fee. While you may be able to get your hands on a document that illustrates the property’s boundaries, you will likely require the services of a professional surveyor to properly understand them. Legal boundaries often provide the final say on property disputes, so do not underestimate their importance– there may even be more than one document on file that needs to be sorted through.
Fences, in most cases, are considered a shared responsibility between the properties that border each other (as long as it is built on the legal boundary). Material, upkeep and height usually fall under municipal regulations but cosmetics are rarely enforced, unless by neighbourhood requirements. Special exceptions may be made if current or previous residents submitted applications for approval.
Sidewalks, trails or other pathways that fall on or adjoin your property could be a blind spot in your idea of property ownership. While most of us in Alberta know that you have to clear snow and ice for pedestrians, but it can be confusing when other issues of liability come up. Physical upkeep and repair of public sidewalks most often fall to the municipality, though the cost may be reflected in your property taxes.
In recent years, a Saskatoon judge’s decision in a custody case made headlines when he outlined that a couple’s disputed pets were property and not children. While comparing a pet to a child is usually done in good humour, it is important to remember that a domestic animal is not recognized as an individual under the law. That said, any actions taken by your pet could mean consequences for you– whether or not it happens on your home’s property.
What is property? It is not a simple question, as reflected by the numerous and diverse definitions under federal, provincial and local law. When there is a dispute, it often falls to legal proceedings to settle things– a potentially expensive proposition. If you still have questions after reading the above, visit or contact Heritage Law today with any of your concerns.