What can you do if your neighbours buildings extend onto your land? This is called encroachment and is the situation that two families in Abbotsford found themselves in.  The Gueldner’s purchased their rural estate property in 2002 with the knowledge that their barn and a shed encroached over their neighbour’s property.  They entered into ongoing negotiations and then litigation with then current owner of the neighbouring property to resolve the issue.  Before the dispute was resolved the neighbour sold his property to Mr. Nichele in 2008.  Mr. Nichele and the Gueldner’s then tried to resolve the issue of the encroaching buildings between themselves for some years.

Mr. Nichele’s position was that he wanted the buildings to be removed from his property, or he wanted to share access to the buildings.  His main objective, as he owned other adjoining land, was to build a road straight through the location of the buildings, linking one of his properties to another. He obtained advice that the property line where the building’s encroached would be the best location for a straight road across his land.  Mr. and Mrs. Gueldner offered to purchase the land under their buildings from Mr. Nichele, but this offer was not accepted.  The neighbours could not come to an agreement as to how to proceed so the matter was litigated in the British Columbia Supreme Court.  The judgement was released on December 23, 2013 and was in Mr. Nichele’s favour.

The court found that Mr. and Mrs. Gueldner had knowledge of the encroachment when they purchased their property as they had been advised of same by both their real estate agent and their lawyer.  The court found that this knowledge prohibited them from obtaining a remedy wherein Mr. Nichele would be forced to sell the portion of the encroached land to them.  Consequently, the Gueldner’s were ordered to remove their barn and shed from Mr. Nichele’s land within nine months.

When purchasing a property it is very important to be satisfied that the buildings and improvements are built in compliance with all applicable codes and bylaws and that they are located within the  boundaries of the property.