And if I look into my neighbour’s house?

Published on by Me Annie Lapointe notaire

Topic(s): Environment

Source: Messier Soucy Avocats

And if I look into my neighbour’s house?
Population density increases in Quebec, the size of land tends to decrease in the cities and houses are getting closer to the boundaries separating the grounds. The right of ownership of a building gives the right to use it, enjoy and dispose freely and fully of it. This right of ownership is regulated however, and sometimes suffers from some exceptions in order not to affect the rights and privacy of the neighbours. Thus, we cannot construct as many windows as we would want if the house is close to the line separating you from the neighbours.

According to article 993 of the Civil Code of Quebec one cannot have a view right on the neighbour's property within 1.5 meters of the dividing line, unless the view is overlooking the street or a public park. The distance is measured from the outer face of the wall where the opening is made, until the dividing line. If there is a projecting window, one then measures from the outside of the window. For an opening in a wall that is adjacent, separating two properties thus, whatever happens, one must seek the agreement of the other.

A view is a window to let the air and looks pass through according to the decision Boutin vs. Bérard (1). A direct view is one that allows you to see straight ahead without turning your head, to observe without effort the neighbouring land. Oblique views are now permitted, no longer subject to a restriction in the law, allowing them to look at the neighbour’s only if your head comes out of the opening. In the recent judgment Lafleur vs. Myra, the Court noted that the wording of Article 993 CCQ "does not require a view inside the house of a neighbour or a courtyard, but rather « a direct view of the land of the neighbour » (« a direct view on the neighbouring land »). The Tribunal notes the words "fond" or "land" rather than the word "home" or "court" which the lawgiver would have been able to use "(2).

Distance restrictions do not apply in the case of solid doors or translucent glass or sleeping shades. A sleeping or translucent shade allows light to pass through, without however distinguishing objects outside and it does not allow for opening it.

If there are balconies, this is not considered under the law as an illegal view since 1994 (3), especially considering the fact that the calculation is from the wall. Rather, it are the municipalities that regulate this type of construction, at the margins. Other types of views were legalized at the same time, either indirect or oblique views of which the legislator no longer makes any mention.

Illegal views are generally revealed by the surveyor when making a certificate of localisation. Even if the situation persists since a long time, think again, it is not creating any rights. To correct a situation detected, a view might be easily granted by the owner-neighbour who suffered illegal views. If your neighbour agrees to it, he will sign the document at a lawyer’s and publish it in the Land Register. The neighbour could also simply tolerate the situation, but that would mean that he retains his right to seek an end to the illegal view at any time.

For answers regarding your specific situation, contact our team of lawyers specialized in real- estate law.

1. Boutin vs. Bérard 1997 R.D.I. 108-110 (C.S.).
2. Lafleur vs. Myre, 2011 QCCS 7376, para. 7 (Judge MARK G.PEACOCK).
3. Stucki vs. Michelle, CA, May 11, 1997.

0 Response(s) to “And if I look into my neighbour’s house?”

Leave a reply