Homebuying can result in costly conflicts warns veteran Realtor

by Steve Randall on 03 Oct 2019

Buying a home should be the achievement of a dream but sometimes it can be the source of conflict with new neighbours.

Veteran Toronto Realtor Claude Boiron says that homebuyers should think beyond the purchase and remember that things can turn sour, especially if some of the common concerns of neighbours are ignored.

"In the era of online, agent-less real estate transactions, missing these key concerns seems more and more likely," said Boiron, of the Royal LePage Terrequity Realty - Boiron Group. "Home buyers tend to forget that when you buy a new property, you are also buying into a relationship with your neighbours that could be decades and decades long,"

Don’t talk to me about trees
Professional mediator Jeanette Bicknell of Bicknell Mediation says that more than half of the neighbour conflicts that she sees are tree related.

These include the desire for trees to trimmed or cut down – and the clash with those that want to protect against that – can spark bitter conflict in even the most congenial neighbourhoods.

Non-traditional designs are also red flags for many.

"You are certainly entitled to build your dream house, but you may not be entitled to build something that looks like it's from the future in a neighbourhood of historic homes," said Bicknell. "If you are planning to build something inconsistent with the historic preservation of a significant neighbourhood, you could be in for a lengthy and costly court battle. You are probably better off finding a neighbourhood that will appreciate your design sense."

Large homes replacing small ones, tall buildings blocking views or light, and decks that invade privacy, can also result in disputes.

The cost of conflicts between neighbours can run to thousands of dollars with architect and lawyer fees often in the mix.

Condo disputes can also be expensive to resolve.

"Condo dispute costs tend to be the about same, regardless of the exact nature of the argument. In general, the longer something goes on, (whether its noise, pets, odours, or cigarette butts) the more it costs," added Bicknell.  "Generally, the more "unreasonable" someone is (whether the Board or an owner), the higher the costs the judge will award against them. Judges really do 'reward' people for trying to work things out."

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