Rural Property - Who Owns the Poles

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Anchor Realty

A recent article in REM brought to light an issue regarding power poles on rural property. The article referred to a case in Ontario where 4 years after the purchase of a rural property, Ontario Hydro One yellow flagged two wooden hydro poles located on the property. The poles connected the main power lines to the house.

The gentleman was given one month to replace the poles or have his power disconnected as the poles were considered unsafe. To complicate matters one of the poles had an old step-down transformer that contained PCB, banned 25 years ago. Records showed the poles had been installed in 1949. The average age of a wooden pole according to the article is between 30 and 35 years.

The story went on to explain that the gentleman, who was elderly, could not afford the estimated $8000.00 to replaced the poles. He sued the Realtor and lawyer for non-disclosure in that he owned the poles and he had not been advised by either one that if the poles needed to be replaced, he would be responsible. The owner lost the case, primarily because he did not included the vendor who was a neighbour and friend.

Being in British Columbia, I was unsure if the same thing held true here as I had not heard of this happening before. So a quick call to BC Hydro confirmed that the property owner is indeed responsible for the poles on the property and for all wire from the first pole to the house. BC Hydro is responsible for the wire from the main grid to the first pole.

The moral of the story:
When involved in the purshase or sale of a rural property, make sure that ownership of the hydro poles is disclosed to the buyer and have the poles checked for their condition. 

Comments (7)

Larry Estabrooks
Independent Real Estate Agent - Moncton, NB
100% representation means NEVER DUAL AGENCY !

Great post Jeff!

Jun 15, 2007 02:00 PM
Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

hi Jeff !

 I too read this with great interest in the recent issue of REM. It's good knowledge to have. I am wondering about vacant land where there is a hydro ROW with a series of poles across it. If someone builds on that land and connects to one of the ROW poles, will they then become responsible for all of the poles leading to that part of the ROW ? 

I recently listed a property that has this scenario on it, so I need to do some digging. Any light you or anyone else can shed on this would be greatly appreciated .


Jun 19, 2007 05:12 AM
Jeff Shields
RE/MAX Anchor Realty - Qualicum Beach, BC
REALTOR Qualicum Beach, BC

I would check the title search for an easement for the utility company. It is possible that the poles are part of the grid so belong to the them and not the land owner. The poles often have a label attached to them indicating the pole number and ownership.

Jun 19, 2007 05:36 AM
Paul Viau
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog - Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog + Photo Services

Yeah - I've only seen one deal like this. It was where years ago the owner bought a large parcel of land and paid to have his poles put in privately. Eventually whenthe area got built up the developer had the Hydro company do all the streets. When the pole got rotten in his yard he called to have it replaced and was told it was not their problem, and he would have to pay the going rate.


Otherwise in all other cases Nova Scotia power has an easement over all properties for the maintenance of power lines.   

Jun 19, 2007 07:45 AM
Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

HI Jeff,  Thanks for your suggestions. The title search did not show any easement for the utility company, yet it is clearly there.  This is old wild country in near North Ontario. It may warrant a call to the hydro company by the owners to find out who is responsible for what  before it sells.

Thanks for your help,


Jun 21, 2007 02:22 PM
J Perrin Cornell
Coldwell Banker Cascade Real Estate - Wenatchee, WA

Good gosh...I can't keep

I can see the logic but I think we need to explore further.... where would it stop?

Jun 29, 2007 01:39 AM
Wayne McMullan
Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty - Belleville, ON
Quinte Real Estate
Good post Jeff. Here's something else on this matter (at least in Ontario). From the first pole to your house you must use 3OT wire that is CSA approved yet Hydro uses only 4OT wire to that first pole (it's not CSA approved). And guess what, the 3OT wire is about 3-4 times as expensive. The reason that Hydro uses non-CSA wire is that they maintain it but do not maintain the wire from that first pole. Talk about a crazy set-up.
Jul 03, 2007 06:37 AM