Is ground floor patio water tap accessible to neighbours?

C.K.. writes:

Dear Paul: My condo is on the ground floor and I have what I think is the exclusive use of the adjoining patio area. My patio is the only one that has an outside water tap. The other day, my next-door neighbour was in my patio area attaching her garden hose to my water tap. Isn’t this “my” water tap? My water? Is my neighbour trespassing? I have brought this to the property manager’s attention, but he does not return my calls. I am upset!

Paul replies:

Dear C.K.: Anyone in your situation would be upset. I am surprised that each unit does not have an outside water tap. This may have been a way for the developer to save a few dollars, but not very practical for unit owners on the ground floor. Your situation brings about several questions. First of all, do you know, for a fact, that the patio is for your exclusive use? This should be detailed in the governing documents. Check the Status Certificate to determine if there is any exclusive use mentioned. Normally, it is my understanding that the patio would be for the exclusive use of the adjacent unit owner in the same manner that a balcony may also be considered an exclusive use common element. As odd as it may seem, the water tap may not be for your exclusive use but to serve all common elements within reach. But, this does not mean that your neighbours could use it. Then comes the question of the water bill, I would assume all owners are paying for the water through their condo fees, if not you would be on the hook

Since patio areas are usually separated by some kind of barrier, it is common sense to assume that it is for your exclusive use and that any intrusion might be a trespass. The neighbour should ask for permission to enter your patio area and use the water tap. The issue of trespassing is an issue for lawyers to determine. The property manager needs to get back to you and resolve this matter before it becomes a feud. Sad, that he doesn’t. Good luck!

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