Boundary walls between neighbouring properties are key to defining property lines and ensuring the privacy and security of your property. Yet, boundary walls often also form the basis of heated disputes between neighbours, particularly when not done correctly. In this article, we highlight some of the main aspects to be considered when building or modifying a boundary wall.
Firstly, the construction of a boundary wall requires the consent and cooperation of both neighbouring property owners. Our courts have emphasised the importance of this requirement even though it is recognised that a landowner is entitled to construct a boundary wall.
A boundary wall must comply with any municipal by-laws. Such by-laws may specify parameters such as height restrictions, setback requirements, and aesthetic considerations. These by-laws aim to ensure safety, preserve the character of the neighbourhood, and prevent any encroachment on public spaces or neighbouring properties.
Additionally, there may also be the need to have building plans approved for the wall. Again, the local by-laws may require that building plans be prepared and approved before construction may commence.
A failure to comply with these requirements for a boundary wall may lead to legal disputes between neighbouring property owners, with disagreements ranging from issues over the location, height, or even the design or aesthetic of the wall. In such cases, if an amicable resolution is not achieved, litigation may be the only option to resolve the dispute, adding to costs and further straining already tense neighbourly relations.
Should a boundary wall be constructed without the necessary building permissions or in violation of municipal by-laws, such would be an unlawful act and the local authority may take steps such as the imposition of a penalty or fine or more seriously, the issue of a demolition order. Such a demolition order would compel the owner to remove or modify the non-compliant structure at their own expense.
So, owners, be wary of just building that boundary wall. Talk to your neighbour and ensure that you understand the local by-laws and building regulations before you start building your wall.Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy have been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s).