Trespassing on farm properties has become an issue in Ontario. The following points are intended to help you to know your legal rights as well as how to approach trespassers in a non-violent manner.
According to subsection 2(1) of the Ontario Trespass to Property Act, a person may be charged and found guilty of a trespass offence. Upon conviction that person is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 if they enter a location where entry is prohibited; engage in an activity that is forbidden on the premises; or refuse to leave when asked to do so by the occupier or an authorized person.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act, was enacted in 1980 to protect the rights of occupiers, while allowing them to control activities on their property. “Occupier” means anyone in legal possession of land; legal owner or tenant. Places subject to the Act include land, water, and buildings, including portable structures.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act and the Ontario Trespass to Property Act work together to protect the rights of property owners in the event that persons come onto your farm property without consent.
Things to know:
- Use signs that clear indicate what is and is not allowed on your property at all entry points. If you wish to prohibit all activities on your property, use a “No trespassing” sign. This does not affect your ability to give permission to individuals to enter or use your land.
- A posted red circle on a white background also indicates “no trespassing.”
- Under subsection 3(1) of the Ontario Trespass to Property Act, farmland does not have to be posted – trespassing on cultivated fields and fenced land is automatically illegal.
- Any information you can give police, such as make, model, and colour of vehicle used or the licence plate can help lead to prosecution.
- If a convicted trespasser caused damage, the court can award compensation to be paid by the trespasser over and above the fine; the court can also make the trespasser pay the occupier’s court costs (an award of costs).
If you encounter a trespasser on your property, politely ask them to leave. If you find that the situation escalates, remove yourself from the conversation and contact the police.
Sample letter to send to Queen’s Park