Being a good Neighbour
Property limits and boundary determination
The limits of your property are determined by the deeds of ownership and the cadastral plan. On your property, the boundary lines are set by staking, or by a boundary determination. Markers bearing the name and number of the surveyor who performed the staking or boundary determination are placed in the ground at the extremities of your property.
Staking does not have the same legal value as a boundary determination because it is based on the surveyor’s opinion, expressed for the client’s benefit alone. In most cases, the certificate of location you receive when you purchase a property is established from that opinion.
Boundary determination is a permanent, irrevocable operation that establishes the true limits of a property. It cannot be contested. If a boundary determination has been carried out for your property, you must abide by it.
Situations in which boundary determination may be required
If you or your neighbour believes that a staking operation has not shown the true dividing line between your properties, it is best to carry out a boundary determination. This may involve one of three situations.
You and your neighbour agree on the need to carry out a boundary determination, and you call on the services of a land surveyor. The surveyor will listen to your respective opinions and to the opinions of your witnesses and any legal advisors, attorneys or notaries you may ask for assistance.
He or she will also study all the available documentation and the limits of adjacent properties before submitting a full written report.
If you and your neighbour agree on the conclusions of the boundary determination report, you must confirm your agreement in a written document signed in the surveyor’s presence.
The surveyor will then invite you to witness the boundary marking operation, i.e. the placing of boundary markers, and will prepare the minutes of the boundary determination, which will be recorded in the land register.
In this case, you and your neighbour will each pay half of the surveyor’s bill for the boundary determination report, and will split the bill for the boundary marking operation and minutes proportionally to the length of the boundary determined for your respective properties.
You and your neighbour initially agreed on the need for a boundary determination and on the choice of a land surveyor, but you do not agree on the conclusions of the boundary determination report.
In this case, the dividing line between your properties will be determined by the courts. In Québec, the Superior Court has jurisdiction in these matters.
If you reject the conclusions of the boundary determination report, you have one month from receipt of the report to file your application with the clerk of the Superior Court.
Given the complexity of these types of cases, you will probably have to hire attorneys, and will face long delays and high costs.
Your neighbour refuses to carry out a boundary determination.
First, you must send a formal notice asking your neighbour to agree to a boundary determination. The notice must be written and sent in accordance with certain basic rules. In addition, it must contain:
- a description of the properties involved;
- the name and address of the surveyor you would like to carry out the work.
If, after receiving the formal notice, your neighbour consents to the boundary determination and agrees with you on the choice of a land surveyor, you proceed as described in the first or second situation.
However, if your neighbour still does not agree to the boundary determination despite receiving the formal notice, you may take your case to the Superior Court, which will take charge of the matter.
Are you in a dispute with a neighbour? Citizen mediation can help you find a satisfactory solution for both parties.
Last update: December 14, 2023