Zero Lot Line Housing Information

In 2019, the City allowed single detached houses in certain areas to be built up to one of the shared side property lines (zero metres distance). Because one side can be built with zero metres distance from a shared side property line, homes built on these lots are commonly referred to as Zero Lot Line homes.

What does this mean for you?

It means there are specific rules to ensure you and your neighbour’s property rights are maintained. It also means it’s your responsibility to know the restrictions in place for your property, and what could happen if these restrictions are ignored. This includes:

  • possible land use enforcement;
  • costs for removal of items, equipment, or construction within the easement; and
  • neighbour disputes.

To help residents familiarize themselves with their property and its features, an information package is mailed when a change of ownership occurs on a Zero Lot Line property. This package includes: an introductory letter, an FAQ, and a diagram to explain the concept.

View the Zero Lot Line Properties Diagram

Zero Lot Line FAQs

Can I clean the side of my house that has zero metres clearance from my neighbour’s yard?

Yes, an easement on the land title gives you permission to access your neighbour’s property within the easement to maintain your house and garage on your property.

Who owns the 1.5 metre easement?

There is an easement on both sides of your home. One easement is on your property and the other easement is on your neighbour’s property. The easement is a legal instrument that is registered on your property’s title. While you own your property, an easement grants your neighbour access to the affected land without having to ask you permission. Similarly, the easement on your neighbour’s property grants you access to the 1.5m strip of land in order for you to maintain that side of your house.

Is this a legal right?

  • Yes. Easements and Land Use Bylaw regulations establish minimum distances between neighbouring properties, rights of access, and conditions concerning the construction and appearance of the property. The “easements” are registered on the land title and are a legal tool that gives you the right to access a portion of your neighbour’s property.
  • All zero lot line properties have a private maintenance easement registered on title. The easement runs from the front of each property to the back. The easement on your neighbour’s property allows you the right to access a portion of their property to maintain your own house or garage, just like your other neighbour has the right to access a portion of your property. Please refer to the enclosed diagram.

Why is the right to access my neighbour’s property important?

Having the right to access an easement on your neighbour’s property means you can access the side of your house that is built up to the shared property line without having to ask for permission. You may need to access this property to carry out routine maintenance on your home.

Can I take a ladder onto my neighbour’s property within the easement?

Yes. You can temporarily bring your ladder onto the easement to conduct maintenance. However, it cannot be stored within this area.

Can I put up a fence across the easement?

No. The easement enables unobstructed access for you and for your neighbour. Fences are permitted within the rear yard, but may not cross the easement.

What about other items? Can I build a shed in my easement, store bicycles, or place my water-hose reel in the easement?

No. Air conditioners, general storage, sheds, bins, landscaping (other than ground cover) or other items are not allowed within the easement. These should be located in the rear yard.

I’ve hired a contractor to install air conditioning. They recommend I install the outside unit within the easement. Can I?

No. The air conditioning unit would obstruct access. The air conditioner must be located in the rear yard.

What else do I need to know about Zero Lot Line communities?

  • Drainage (downspouts) must be directed to the front or rear of the lot (not angled or directed toward a shared property line).
  • Planning and Development must individually approve the design and exterior finish of each house and garage (something called architectural control). Changing the exterior colour or adding, changing or removing exterior accents (e.g., brick or stone), may require a development permit.
  • Please contact the Planning & Development Department if you plan to do any exterior changes (780-992-6198). Even if no development permit is required, the Department may ask you to send in the described changes you want to make and may send you a reply email you can use to confirm that no development permit was required for the change.

How would I resolve a dispute with my neighbour regarding access to a shared easement?

  • Understand the easement registered on your land title / included in your purchase documents.
  • Speak with your neighbour to resolve the issue.
  • If there is an impasse with your neighbour, you may wish to seek mediation and/or consult with your own legal counsel familiar with civil and property law for advice. The City does not enforce easements on private property.


Developer Information

Information was also sent to the following three organizations involved in the development, building and selling of Zero Lot Line homes in Fort Saskatchewan:

  • Urban Development Institute (Metro Edmonton)
  • Canadian Home Builders Association (Edmonton)
  • Realtor Association of Edmonton

DC(A)-13: Urban Character Small Lot Residential Districts Fact Sheet

DC(A)-15: Direct Control - Urban Character Mixed Single Detached Residential Districts Fact Sheet

All three organizations were asked to share this information with its membership to encourage communication at each transaction:

  • Sale of lot to home builder,
  • sale of new home to resident, and
  • resale of home.