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Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours

Disputes with neighbours appear to be pretty much universal, whether people live in cities, small towns or rural areas. Unfortunately, many things that you do in your own yard or house do not stop at your property line. And, if you have neighbours, this can lead to problems.

Good neighbour relations start by considering how your activities could be bothering your neighbours. Often these things are regulated by the municipality where you live, although there may be provincial or even federal rules that apply.

For example, some municipalities regulate the use of fire pits and the potentially harmful smoke that they produce. Where fire pits are allowed, there may be limits on what can be burned, where it can be burned and when it can be burned.

Noise is another thing that is often dealt with by municipal bylaws. Generally, noise bylaws prohibit or limit loud and unnecessary noise. Many bylaws prohibit noise that can easily be heard by someone outside or in another home. There also may be "quiet hours" when things such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws and engine-powered model airplanes, cannot be operated.

Things like lawn pesticides, on the other hand, are covered by federal laws, that apply across Canada, provincial laws, that apply province-wide and often municipal laws as well. A number of municipalities in Canada have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. If pesticides are used it is wise to take precautions to reduce the impact on neighbours. Pesticides should not be applied when it is windy or rainy or too close to your property line. It is a good idea to post a notice that they have been used recently.

Any activity that interferes with someone's ability to enjoy their time spent at home or in their yard can lead to hard feelings. After this things can get out of hand. What started as accidental interference can lead to a cycle of revenge and deliberately harmful activities. As is the case in many situations, it is much easier to avoid neighbour trouble in the first place than it is to resolve a conflict once it has begun.

If neighbours are doing things that bother you a good first step is to talk to them. Sometimes people are not even aware that they are creating problems for others with their activities. If the problem continues you may want to talk to your municipality about any regulations they may have that apply to the situation. Sometimes making neighbours aware of the law that covers the situation can be helpful. Sometimes a resolution can be negotiated or mediated. In situations where the parties will continue to live in close proximity to one another, working together to resolve a dispute can have many advantages. If the dispute cannot be resolved through these means it could end up in court. Going to court, however is usually time-consuming and expensive.

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.