Many times, what starts off as an innocent disagreement between neighbours can escalate into something major.
It can be a spat about noise, boundary issues, trees or fences.
But if you are considering suing your neighbour, think about a few things first.
Whatever hard feelings there are now, they will get much worse if you go to court.
Tips for Suing Neighbour
- Try to settle it as diplomatically and amicably as possible. Remember, the worst settlement, is in my opinion, better than the best lawsuit.
- Consider checking the title of your neighbour’s property first, to see how big their mortgage is and whether they can pay if you win your case;
Maybe it is better to just move than start a fight. You don’t know how the person may react to a lawsuit.
In 2007, Pickering homeowners Bill and Anna Squires became involved in a boundary dispute with their neighbour David Fitzpatrick. The dispute quickly escalated. On November 12, 2007, Squires found the bloody carcass of a coyote on the hood of his pickup truck.
Police were called and Fitzpatrick was charged. The case was later thrown out because it could not be proved that Fitzpatrick put the coyote on the car. A video camera installed by the Squires had been disabled the night before.
Fitzpatrick sued for malicious prosecution and also sued his sister, Shelley Orwin, who he alleged was conspiring with the Squires against him. In a decision dated June 18, 2012, Justice David Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court dismissed Fitzpatrick’s case and awarded the Squires damages of almost $340,000 for among other things, mental distress, legal costs, and punitive damages.
He awarded Ms. Orwin almost $70,000 in legal costs. The judge found that based on all the evidence, it was Fitzpatrick who either placed the coyote on the truck or caused someone else to do it. Fitzpatrick appealed the decision against the Squires and lost.
In a published report, the Squires said that while they’re glad they won the case, they may never see any money. In the meantime, the Squires had to pay all their own legal costs.
This was a difficult situation, since the Squires did not start this lawsuit. They had to defend against one started by their neighbour.
A related issue is whether a seller needs to disclose to a buyer about a neighbour who is peculiar. Most lawyers will say no. For example, I have seen streets closed down on Halloween when someone puts up a huge ghoulish display for weeks, bringing onlookers from all over the City. Do you want to live next door to that house?
This is another reason why you should do research before you buy a home to make sure there are no odd neighbours on the street. Knock on doors. For example, check to see if any neighbour has video surveillance equipment near their front door. This is not usual. Do the right research before you buy and avoid surprises after closing.
For additional information on Neighbour law, click here.
By: M. Weislander