Neighbours from hell: The five weirdest real estate lawsuits in Canada

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In 2014, Toronto couple Jason and Jodi Chapnik launched a suit against their neighbours for renovating their home in the swanky Forest Hill area to look too much like their own house. They sought over $2.5 million in damages and a court-ordered redesign of the alleged copycat Tudor-style property, the Toronto Star reports.

But this isn’t the strangest legal issue in Canadian real estate’s recent past. Some of the highlights — or neighbourly low points — include dog excrement, flare guns and escaped cattle.

Seniors gone wild in Abbotsford, B.C.

A seniors-only retirement home in British Columbia was terrorized when an older man married to a younger woman moved in to 55-and-over, kid-free building The Carlisle. According to 2014 court documents, the couple allegedly egged cars; broke chairs in the recreation room; opened and closed the parking garage gates in the middle of the night to disturb residents; punched holes in walls and wrote “lurid” notes containing the details of alleged affair between the male owner of a certain unit and a female living on the floor above.

The wife of the couple in question had some grievances of her own. She alleged, among other things, that her car was spray-painted with the words ‘Rat,’ ‘Pig’ and ‘Cow.’ She also purported that a member of building management fired a flare gun at her car, and another resident hid under a blanket in the back seat of a car to take photos of her. The National Post also reports she alleged receiving a note under her door on Christmas Eve of 2010 referencing a website on how to commit suicide.

Perhaps the most disturbing report of the goings-on in the Carlisle is that the wife claims the president of the condo complex made a “slashing motion across his throat” when he passed her in the hallway, according to The Province. The B.C. provincial court judge assigned to rule on the lawsuits said it was “so bizarre that it is difficult to believe that it is happening in real life rather than in a fictional story.”

Wrong turn in Saint-Augustin-De-Desmaures, Que.

A woman visiting an acquaintance near Quebec City, Que., was standing on the front deck when she asked to use the toilet, The Sun reports. The homeowner gave her directions to the bathroom, and believing she had come to the correct door, the woman opened it and stepped inside. She fell down a flight of stairs and was knocked unconscious, and friends later discovered her lying in a pool of blood in the basement.

She claimed to have suffered a head injury, fractured facial bone, broken wrist and bruises, and sued the homeowner for $228,000 in 2013 claiming that safety standards were not met. She also included an expert report saying that a landing must be built for doors opening into staircases.

Mountain of manure in Indian Mountain, N.B.

New Brunswick couple Lee and Shirley Murray set out to make life very unpleasant — and smelly — for their neighbours, the Gallants, by leaving a gargantuan pile of manure at the edge of their property. The pile, first appearing in November 2013, was so large it could be see via satellite imagery, the National Post reports.

But that’s not all. A judge ruled, in January 2017, that the Murrays were deliberately harassing their neighbours by using a snowblower to send rocks onto their neighbour’s property. They were also found to have wilfully released 50 cattle onto the Gallants’ lawn, resulting in animal excrement and hoof prints all over the grass.

Kindergarten teacher needed in Forest Hill, Toronto

An exasperated Toronto judge dismissed a lawsuit between two Forest Hill couples and told them to stop acting like children. The suit started with a bag of dog faeces allegedly dropped by Audrey Taerk into a garbage can belonging to her neighbours, Paris and John Morland-Jones. The Morland-Jones’s, in return, set up 24-7 surveillance on the Taerks through security cameras pointed at their house. An affidavit in the case stated that things were so tense that Ms. Morland-Jones would shout obscenities at Mr. Taerk whenever he walked by, resulting in Mr. Taerk carrying a voice recorder with him, the National Post reports.

In the end, the judge decided that the accusations were not for the court to consider, writing there is “no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour’s garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour’s hedge.” 

The dangers of whining in Fort McMurray, Alta.,

In an interesting twist, a judge in Fort McMurray came down hard on a couple who complained about a nearby family too much. Glenn and Deanne Mutter filed so many grievances against their next-door neighbours — their kids were too noisy, they parked too close to their driveway, they stared at them, they tossed dog faeces into shared spaces — the RCMP filed charges against the Mutters themselves.

Justice W.P. Sullivan ordered the Mutters to stop persecuting their neighbours, calling them “self-righteous”, “entitled,” “passive aggressive,” “aggressive,” “disingenuous” and “prone to exaggeration,” and ordered them to pay the defendants court costs, which were in excess of $35,000.

“I find that Mr. & Mrs. Mutter are both bullies, that will go to whatever lengths to bully their neighbours,” the judge wrote in his decision, according to the Edmonton Journal. “They will use all the authorities that are available to them by law … to pursue an unceasing campaign of harassment against their neighbours.”

 

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