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This is a collection of answers to questions about property boundaries, land surveys, and property owner rights submitted by people like you.

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Do I have to tear down my carport?


We live in the country and have an acre of land. Recently, we had a carport built. The contractor who built it took it out further than we had discussed an now a small a few feet of it is on the neighbour's land. The neighbour's house is so far away that she didn't even notice the carport when it went up but now that she has seen it, she wants it torn down. It doesn't affect her at all (her house is so far away she can't even see it) but she says she's worried she won't be able to sell her house as a result. We offered to buy the land, but she says that the septic tank permit requires her to have an acre so she can't sell. Can we offer to sign a letter saying we would take it down voluntarily if it's ever an issue with a new buyer but we can't understand why she would want us to take it down now, when nobody is selling. It's so hard to understand why someone would be so angry about something so far away from their house or why they would want to fall out over that. We are trying to hard to find an amicable solution that doesn't involve tearing down something we just paid thousands to build. Is there anything that we can do to resolve this, besides tearing it down and hating her for it until the end of time?

The first thing I would ask is how do you know the carport is encroaching?  Did you have a survey or boundary stakeout done?  Or are you assuming, as most people do, that you know precicely where the boundary is?  The only way to be completely sure is too have a surveyor take a look at it for you.


Assuming you are correct, then you have to be prepared for the eventuality that you will have to comply with your neighbour’s request.  Having said that, there are some measures you can take to avoid a tear-down. Please note that your best source for advice on this matter is a lawyer who specializes in land matters, so please take this a s a general guide and consult a lawyer before taking any action.


1.  Buy the land.  Possibly the cleanest way to deal with this is to have your neighbour agree to sell you that portion of land on which the car port is encroaching.  You’d have to go through the Committee of Adjustment to get the re-drawing of the boundary approved, and other procedural measures, but at the end of the process the car port would be sitting on entirely on your property.


2.  Encroachment agreement.  This is an agreement between neighbours that a) defines and acknowledges the encroachment, b) confirms that you are not making a claim to the land, c) the conditions under which your neighbour is willing to accept the encroachment (time, sale of property, at their discretion, etc.) and d) that the agreement remains on title so that subsequent property owners are also bound by it.  If your neighbour is concerned about resale issues, then an encroachment agreement that gives them or their subsequent buyers the ability to have the encroachment removed at their discretion may suffice.


3.  Easement.  Your neighbour may agree to granting you an easement over the portion of land that the car port is encroaching on.  The easement would be a non-possessory right to use the land being encroached on by the car port.  Like the encroachment agreement the easement would remain on title in perpetuity (or as long as the car port is encroaching).  Unlike the encroachment agreement it would not give the neighbour or subsequent owners the right to demand removal.  this process too would require approval from the Committee of Adjustment.


There are other options that a good land lawyer will be able to advise you of, however given the circumstances I hope that gives you some ideas to begin your process with.