Trespassing in Alberta and How to Protect Your Property

On November 28, 2019, Alberta’s Government passed Bill 27: the Trespass Statues (Protecting Law-Abiding Property Owners) Act. This new legislation was intended to help protect property owners in Alberta by implementing changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act. Despite the effort, trespassing is still problematic in both cities and rural communities across the province.

Unwanted guests on your property can be an uncomfortable and at times a terrifying moment. Be that as it may, taking matters into into your own hands can leave you legally liable.

What is Trespassing?

A person can become a trespasser by:

1. physically entering another person’s property without permission, or

2. using objects (throwing rocks, litter, or other items) other than their body to “enter” the property.

A person is considered to be trespassing only when it is an intentional act. This means that the trespasser intended to enter the property or remain on it. Therefore, anyone who enters someone else’s property without approval is considered a trespasser. Guests can also become trespassers when they fail to leave the property after being asked to do so by the owner.

How can you protect your property from trespassers?

You may be surprised to learn that any person can go onto your private property during daylight hours if permission to do so is implied.

One “implied permission” scenario includes a sidewalk to the front door of a home where there are no signs warning people to stay off the land. In this case, the sidewalk provides the impression that it is okay to come onto the property.

Another scenario could be during Halloween when children are trick-or-treating. You may have decorations up, a path leading to your property, and you are handing out treats to young ones. Again, this situation creates the impression that it is okay for others to come to your front door.

Implied permission can be revoked at any time by the property owner. To remove authorization to be on the premise, a property owner must ask or tell someone to leave. You could sue them for trespassing if they choose not to.

Protect your property from trespassers use signage and fencing:

  • Place “No Trespassing” signage on your property. This clearly states to others that this land is private and not to enter.
  • Ensure your trespassing signage is easily visible by posting it at every entry point to your home or farm, such as laneways and field entrances.

What are the penalties for trespassing in Alberta?

Even if there is no proof of damage, a person can be sued and found liable for trespassing under Canada’s Criminal Code and Alberta’s Petty Trespass Act and Trespass to Premises Act. The penalties are dependant on whether the trespasser had received oral or written notice not to enter the property, and sentences can range from fines to prison.

CTV News shared the new penalties for trespassing without notice in Alberta, which includes:

  • $10,000 for first offences.
  • $5,0000 to $25,000 for subsequent offences.
  • Possibility of receiving up to 6-months in jail.
  • Compensation for loss or damage to property up to $100,000.
  • Fines up to $200,000 for corporations involved in a trespass crime.

How do you remove a trespasser from your property?

Suppose a stranger enters your land or home without permission. In that case, you must first tell the trespasser to vacate the property. If they refuse, then call the police.

Taking the situation into your own hands by physically removing the trespasser or showing violence are illegal acts that could leave you liable. This includes detaining a trespasser, even if the landowner is doing so only until the police arrive.

A trespasser may sue you for any injuries experienced while on your property, regardless if they were trespassing or not. This is what happened in the Edouard Maurice case. In February 2018, Edouard Maurice, a farmer living near Okotoks, AB, encountered two people rummaging through his vehicles at his property. Maurice fired two warning shots, with one bullet ricocheting and injuring one of the trespassers. In September of 2019, a news article by CBC reported that Maurice was being sued by the injured trespasser, Ryan Watson, for more than $100,000.

It’s important to know what your rights are as a property owner if an intruder appears or a guest on your property is unwilling to leave.

At McGuiness Law, we want you and your family to feel safe and protected. If you’ve ever encountered a trespasser on your property and are looking to be compensated, our personal injury lawyers can assist you. Call us at McGuiness Law for a FREE CONSULTATION and to schedule your appointment. We cover all costs, with no fee unless we settle in your favour.