A land surveyor's right to enter

A land surveyor's right to enter

Licensed Ontario Land Surveyors and their staff, working within the Province of Ontario, have a statutory right to enter onto private property in order to perform a survey. Despite this entitlement, they often meet resistance: neighbours may object and have been known to call the police to stop what they consider an act of trespass.

The law recognizes certain circumstances when officials of government agencies and inspectors can enter onto private land without a search warrant. But this access is subject to limitations. Even fire firefighters and emergency medical services staff must abide by certain conditions when entering private land during an emergency.

The following stipulations apply when a surveyor goes onto private property. The surveyor must:

  • identify themselves and their firm (including vehicle signage)
  • have a professional demeanor and appearance
  • not cause damage
  • provide notice where possible
  • leave the site in a similar condition as it appeared before they arrived
  • have due regard for the client’s privacy rights in explaining the purpose of the survey

Surveyors require such access because rigorous measurements must to be taken to features on both sides of a boundary. Surveyors are required to look for survey monuments that have previously been planted in the ground, which are often accessible only through adjacent land.

Surveyors understand peoples' reluctance to have strangers on their land – they tell tales of inadvertently seeing cannabis plants, scantily clad sunbathers and the like. But unless this task is one day done remotely by drones flying round the yard, there will always be a need to get on the land.