Bylaws are laws that apply to certain areas, such as a specific city, county, etc., but not on a national or provincial level. Bylaws are regulated by municipal governments or local councils, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important than national or provincial laws. Bylaws are enforceable by penalties and, in come cases, violation of a bylaw can be considered a criminal offence. As such, it’s important when moving to a new city or area that you know the bylaws for your neighbourhood.
While there are numerous bylaws for different offences, some the most common ones concern vehicle parking, animal control, noise, construction, landscaping and physical appearance of your property.
Many communities have rules regarding when you can park on the street. For example, there may be seasonal rules (such as having to be off the road by a certain time in the winter months) or alternating days for each side of the street.
If you have a pet, you’ll want to make note of any animal-related bylaws in your new community. This could include noise laws, leash laws (some municipalities require even cats to be on leashes), licensing requirements and rules regarding possession of exotic pets or animals not normally found in residential neighbourhoods (such as chickens or horses).
If you plan to add an extension onto your home or build a shed or other shelter on your property, you’ll need to check for any building bylaws. You’ll need a permit and your design may have to meet certain criteria.
Your new community may have requirements regarding what types of trees you’re allowed to plant or, if there’s already a tree there, whether you can take it down, replace it or trim it.
Similarly, there may be rules forbidding homes that appear rundown or neglected. Broken windows, scattered garbage and debris, dilapidated vehicles, grass that’s too long and graffiti are all common bylaw violations.
Bylaws are intended to keep a community safe, clean and liveable for everyone there. Learning the rules of your new neighbourhood will help you settle in perfectly.