Understanding Trespassing Laws and Your Rights
Most people are familiar with the idea of trespassing and the fact that there are laws to protect a person’s private property from unwanted visitors. However, when we take a second to consider the idea of trespassing, it is not commonly known what exactly constitutes trespassing and what consequences might apply. For the average homeowner, it’s not likely a day goes by when someone isn’t coming onto your property for one reason or another – be it a neighbour, the mail courier or the technician to read your gas meter – but are all these visitors in fact trespassers?
There are 3 areas of Canadian Law that come together to form the laws regarding trespassing.
- Torte Law or Civil Law
- Provincial Legislation and
- Criminal Law
While each of these sections of the law outline specific definitions of and actions against trespassing, they come together to give property owners an understanding of the law and their associated rights.
So, when a salesperson approaches your door on a Tuesday afternoon, are they trespassing? The answer is no. However, if a person approaches your home in the middle of the night, are they trespassing? The answer in this case could be yes. So how does the law identify when someone is trespassing or not?
According to a combination of Torte Law, Provincial Legislation and Criminal law, a person is NOT trespassing if:
- There is implied permission for entry. For all buildings, there is an implied permission for individuals to approach the door unless there is notice posted otherwise warning them to stay away.
- If there is a reasonable purpose for this person to have permission to be on the land. For instance, a technician entering your fenced back yard to read your water meter.
A person can be legally found to be trespassing if:
- If implied permission is revoked by the landowner. This is to say, the right of implied permission ceases to exist immediately upon the landowner instructing the individual to leave the property. If the individual remains on the property after this point, they are trespassing.
- If they are entering the property during the night. The Criminal Code of Canada defines this time to be between 9pm and 6am. Implied permission does not exist during these hours.
- If the individual is carrying out unlawful activity on the land.
- If a person has entered land that is under cultivation. This includes a garden, a farm or a field fenced for livestock.
The different areas of the law allow for different levels of consequences should one be found to be trespassing. Torte Law allows for landowners to take civil action and recoup costs or damages from trespassers in civil court. Provincial legislation allows for fines to be imposed while Civil Law allows for prosecution to be brought against wrongdoers.
If you’re concerned about trespassers, the best way to make your wishes known to individuals who might enter your property is through appropriate signage and fencing.