Attractive Nuisances-an Unattractive Nuisance

by : Jason Sisilli

Property owners these days must be even more careful not to attract law suits and compensation cases against them. More and more ways to claim money against a home owner are showing up, and since as a home owner, you have the equity to help you to pay up - prevention is the best antidote.

It may surprise you to learn that nowadays, instead of charging someone with trespassing when they wander onto your property, you may be faced with a charge to compensate them, even though you didn't invite them to 'visit' you!

The good old North American tradition of not fencing your yard may be on the wane! There have been several cases where a child has hurt themselves in a yard, and parental responsibility has been superseded by the yard owner's responsibility. This is because the owner (unwittingly, no doubt) had an 'attractive nuisance' in his yard!

No, this does not mean a dog - necessarily. It appears that it could mean almost anything. Cases have been fought involving a piece of sheet rock, a hole in the ground, stairways and even the family lawnmower!

You may think that it would seem reasonable to have a stairway or a lawnmower in your garden, but try getting that past the judge! In a three pronged attack you, the owner of the property, become responsible for any injury that happens when a young intruder is checking out an attractive nuisance!

Here are the three points:

Children may not appreciate that something interesting in your yard may pose a threat.

The owner of such 'lures' should recognize that their responsibility extends to this type of curiosity.

Failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury may make you liable.

But what of parental liability I hear the indignant chorus! Apparently that doesn't count!

So, next time you leave the lawn mower running to dash into the washroom, run back first and switch it off! Other suggested problems include fountains, table saws, paint sprayers or any kind of construction project. Your unenclosed swimming pool (or even the hole ready to build one) is now a hazard - the list goes on.

In fact, there are bylaws in many areas which cover such things as swimming pools, fridge doors, chemicals, old cars and other junk.

There is some good news, to be liable for an injury on your property, an owner must create or maintain the harmful object. As mentioned previously, it may be a good time to invest in some fencing....