08 Sep Handling Real Estate Boundary and Property Line Disputes with Your Neighbor
There is an old adage that good fences make good neighbors. When it comes to the law, nothing could be truer. Issues related to real estate boundaries can be very stressful if you have a less than friendly neighbor. Although there are some simple issues that can be overlooked, when the infringement interferes with the safety or enjoyment of your property, legal action may be required.
In this post, we discuss how to handle real estate boundary issues between homeowners.
How are Property Lines Defined?
Your property’s boundaries are defined by lines on a “plat” map which shows how patches of land are separated. At the time of the property purchase, homeowners should be given a copy of the survey showing the lot boundaries with the length, width, names of the streets bordering the area and the tax lot number. The survey also includes a legal description. You might have property line issues and not even realize it!
Regardless of whether you are in a rural, urban, or suburban neighborhood, there is always a chance an owner somewhere along the line either knowingly or unknowingly breached the boundary. However, in the case where something new is underway, being transparent with your neighbors is the best course of action.
How Do I Know Where My Property Lines Are?
If you or your neighbor plan to undertake a project such as installing a fence, or some form or property improvements, it is important to understand where your property lines fall. You can try to define those lines prior to starting the project using a survey to establish the lines for you. If you don’t have your survey, you can:
- Ask your real estate closing attorney
- Ask the title company you closed with or
- Ask your City for a plat map
It is in your best interest to do so before the project is underway. In cases where property lines are involved, let your neighbors know about the work before the work begins. This is the best way to avoid neighbors getting upset and taking legal action.
What if I Think My Neighbor is Infringing on My Property Line?
If you think your neighbor is infringing on your property line, there are several situations where a dispute might arise, including:
- Fence issues where the location is in question
- It appears your neighbor crossed the property line when making improvements to their property
- Their improvements are hindering the use of your property such as blocking your driveway, or something overhangs onto your side of the property line such as a tree
- They are storing items that are infringing on your side of the property line
- Their improvement violates local zoning restrictions or ordinances
While sometimes a friendly conversation may help avoid disputes, in the case where a major infringement occurs, it is always best to speak with a real estate attorney.