Canada’s Supreme Court ruled “squatting” on a parking spot – or any other property – for a long enough period of time can grant you ownership—as long as your use of that spot is not disputed before your claim to ownership, reports CTV News.
The case stems from a feud between neighbours in Bromont, Quebec that was kicked off when new home owners attempted to claim the use of a parking spot that was sold to them inclusive with the purchase of their home.
Helene Allie began using her neighbour’s parking spot in 1994 without dispute or complaint from her then-neighbour. When her new neighbours, Alain Ostiguy and Valerie Savard, moved in back in 2011, they filed for a court injunction to stop Allie from using their titled parking spot.
But Allie pushed back, defending use of the space in Quebec’s superior court, appeals court, and earlier this year in Canada’s highest court.
Not only did Allie succeed in defending her use of the space, she gained legal ownership of it.
Canada’s Supreme Court ruled ownership of an item grants legal title to that item, and conversely, legal title to an item does not grant ownership to it—at least not indefinitely.
In this case, the continuous use of the space for 23 years solidified Allie’s ownership of it—though, according to Quebec law, she had legal entitlement to it after a decade of undisputed use.
This ruling was made based on articles in Quebec’s Civil Code, which differs from common law applied elsewhere in Canada, so the specific time frame required for “squatter” ownership may vary in other provinces.
Not all is lost for Ostiguy and Savard, though. If they can prove in court that the previous owner knew of Allie’s long-term use of the parking space prior to the sale, but failed to disclose this information, they are entitled to compensation from the previous owner for the value of the parking spot.
“It is possible for them to claim the corresponding loss from their predecessors in title if they can prove that the latter were aware of the respondent’s encroachment before the sale and failed to disclose it to them,” ruled the judges on the case.