Dealing With Property Line Disputes

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Life would be so much easier -- though perhaps less attractive -- if property boundaries were clearly marked with bright red lines. But because they aren't, property line disputes often occur between neighbors. Maybe one neighbor wants to build an addition on their house that encroaches on the other's property. Or perhaps one neighbor wants to build a shed or plant a tree right over the boundary line. Sometimes, neighbors go to war over petty disputes like who is responsible for mowing a strip of grass. Luckily, there are ways through messes like these. Read on to learn about which steps to take if you and your neighbor are feuding over a property line issue. 

Talk to Each Other

In many cases, a frank conversation can clear up any property disputes. Explain to your neighbor that his tree roots are killing your prized roses. Maybe you can store your lawnmower in his shed that's one foot over the property line. Instead of letting that strip of grass grow taller than your heads, agree to each pay the kid across the street a couple of dollars to mow it. If talks don't go as planned, however, it's time for the next step.

Gather Your Information

Do a little background search on your property. Perhaps the person who owned your house before you gave your neighbor permission to use some of what's now your property. That's good information to have, and you can find it through a title search. If you still have paperwork from the survey and appraisal that were conducted when you purchased the house, pull them out of the file cabinet. If you don't have them, have an appraisal conducted and consider hiring someone to conduct an Alta Survey. An Alta Survey will show property boundaries, easements and locations of land improvements, and will be invaluable in a property dispute. Once you've gathered this information, you might discover that the law has settled your property dispute for you. Discuss your findings with your neighbor.

Demand Letter

If your neighbor refuses to adhere to what your property research showed, it's time to consult with an attorney. Ask your attorney to draft a letter outlining the situation and offering a solution. Taking the matter to court will be expensive, so it's best to try to settle the matter privately. Perhaps your neighbor could pay for the use of your land. Maybe you can allow him to use a piece of your property for his shed if he allows you to use a piece of his property for your roses. Your neighbor will likely send your attorney's letter to his attorney, and the two professionals will negotiate on your behalf.

Head to Court

If no resolution is reached, it's time to go to court where a judge will consider the evidence and decide who legally owns the property in dispute.