Are Property Line Disputes Covered by Insurance?
Homeowners in Canada are often attached to the house they have bought with their hard-earned money. Law says that all property owners and tenants have the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property, and you are free to fight for this peace as well.
Any event such as shared driveways, easements, fencing positions, or even past and current relationships with neighbours that can affect this property right can raise issues. Clashes with neighbours and trespassers over authority and safety of property are one-way tickets to property line disputes.
Therefore, the experts from Surex will discuss the insurance coverage provisions for property line disputes in this article. So, make sure you scroll down to the end to know if your insurance policy can cover you in case of a property line dispute.
What is a property line dispute?
Property lines or boundary lines refer to the invisible lines, unmarked boundaries, and even fences that define your property. They are outlined in your property deed and tell you where your property ends and that of your neighbours begins.
They can be unmarked, and crowded urban settlements can blur the lines between what is shared and what is not.
There are two distinct types of property line violations that can lead to a dispute:
Trespassing is when someone knows they are in your property and area of authority but continues with what they're doing.
Examples of trespassing include:
- Wrongful or non-consensual entry
- Defacing the property in any way or form
- Unwanted parking, etc.
Encroaching is when a structure intrudes on or is built (sometimes unknowingly) on someone else’s property. Common encroachments include the building of:
- Storage sheds
- Garages, etc
It can also be an overhanging tree branch from your neighbour's yard over to yours. Regardless, if encroachment issues are not settled promptly, they can cause some volatile disputes and even an easement of property.
How to resolve a property line dispute?
If you're involved in an ongoing property line dispute with your neighbour(s), it would be a good idea to start with a land survey. If you don't already have a copy of your land survey, you can apply for one by a licensed surveyor.
Your survey plan will include three specific elements:
- The property size and layout
- The legal lot pattern
- Rights-of-way or easements
You can then use your survey to try and come to an agreeable conclusion with your neighbour. If this does not work, you can seek legal counsel for a resolution.
Another more practical solution would be to apply for Title Insurance to protect you and your property from challenges regarding your ownership and problems that may infringe on your right to property.
Though some insurers allow you to purchase Title Insurance at any time, it would be ideal to purchase it at the time of buying your property itself.
What is title insurance?
When you purchase land, the title or the right to ownership gets transferred to you as you're now the new homeowner.
In recent years, title insurance has become a popular purchase among people who buy houses, condominiums, cabins, residential land, and other properties.
As the name implies, title insurance is an insurance policy that covers homeowners from damages caused by title defects in their property. The policy offers protection and coverage even if title issues existed when the property was purchased.
Any problem or possible danger with the title that inhibits free and clear ownership is referred to as a title defect. It's tough for a property owner to claim absolute rights or even sell their property.
A title insurance policy protects as long as the property in question is owned by you. It offers protection against multiple risks and problems, including:
- Attempts to take over your title through fraudulent means.
- Trespassing of property and unwarranted encroachments.
- Easements, that is, the right acquired for access to or over another’s property.
- Not compliant with zoning laws, that is, when the property does not meet the by-laws set down by the municipality.
If you're purchasing or refinancing your home or property, you should discuss with your lawyer to see if a title insurance policy works for you so that arrangements can be made.
Benefits of title insurance
Here's why opting for title insurance is in your best interest:
Duty to reimburse and duty to defend
Your title insurer will cover the actual damages you incurred and compensate you for them, subject to the policy's restrictions and exclusions.
It will also protect you against any litigation arising from a covered risk, subject to the cost and effectiveness of your defence.
While title insurance reimburses you for your real losses and defends you against a lawsuit based on the covered risks, it does not take responsibility for your actions or pay the expenses of a lawsuit you file against a third party.
A title insurance policy can protect you for more than just a solicitor's or notary's opinion on a title, including post-purchase fraud.
Cover from property line disputes due to survey errors
High-quality title insurance can protect you from property line disputes BC homeowners often face due to survey errors. However, you should check the policy documents before purchasing them since many insurance providers do not cover boundary disputes.
However, even if your insurance provider offers coverage for property line disputes, it will only be limited to disputes caused by survey errors.
Purchasing a property can be very stressful and requires making many important decisions regarding budget, location, the right policies to purchase, and much more.
Further, to ensure a smooth purchase with little to no future problems or threats to your title ownership, you must conduct thorough research on your end and make an informed decision to safeguard your monetary possessions.
Without extensive research and information on the property, you could be vulnerable to some huge risks and losses. Thus, it's recommended that you reach out to capable advisors or consultants that have all the relevant tools and information that you'd need for an ideal purchase.