Property line dispute is simply a disagreement between two (or more) property owners about where the actual boundaries of their properties lie. It is also known as boundary line dispute, lot line dispute or neighbor dispute. In common cases of property line dispute, one party may knowingly or unknowingly build a fence, shed or curb, plant a tree, install heavy equipment, or generally extend their property across the legal boundaries of their parcel.
Property line disputes are caused by two major factors. They are: Encroachment or deed problems. Encroachment is the situation where there is a mismatch between the use of the property line and the legal location of the property line. This, as described above, is when one party builds a fence or plants a tree across legal boundary lines. This problem can be compounded if the parcel has a changed owners a few times. The new owners may not know the actual boundary lines and so may not know when their property is being encroached upon.
Deed problems are caused by flaws in the recorded parcel description. These flaws could be as a result of recording errors from the municipality’s office or inaccurate description during sale of the parcel. In this case, both parties seemingly have proper evidence that they own the same piece of land.
If you have ever been in involved in a boundary line dispute before, you know that it is very easy for things to go very sour very quickly. The dispute can deteriorate into physical personal conflicts and prolonged legal actions against each other. It is even worse if the two parties have had personal conflicts in the past that may have strained their relationship.
Lot line disputes can be wearisome but they are not without remedy. There are steps you can take to resolve a property line dispute. Using these tips properly will see the neighbor dispute resolved but there is no guarantee how long it will take. When you notice an encroachment on your land or if your neighbor informs you that you have crossed the boundary lines, the first thing to do is:
1. Stay Calm And Remain Civil
Remember this is a potentially explosive situation so you need to be civil. Accusations usually cause people to become defensive. And so if you think your neighbor encroached on your parcel, approach them in a non-accusatory tone. Tell them you think they may have crossed it accidentally. This will help lower their defensive mode and be open to listen to you. If you being accused of encroachment, be calm and listen to their reasons. Try not to be defensive (which is a natural reaction); it will only make things worse. A warm, friendly attitude can cause the matter to be resolved in no time.
2. Have Proof
If your parcel boundary lines have been crossed or you are being accused of encroachment, bring proof. You and your neighbor should compare property deeds or settlement papers to see where your legal boundary lines are. You could visit the local tax assessment office and request additional document to validate your claim. If the records or documents are accurate, the dispute would end immediately and you both can come to an agreement. In the instance where this doesn’t happen, then you need to get the services of a land surveyor. They would evaluate the property and produce documented proof of the exact location of the boundary line. Visit http://www.landtecsurvey.com to order a survey.
3. Try To Come To A Mutual Agreement With Your Neighbor
In the situation where the first two steps are having a positive effect on the dispute, you can seek to reach an agreement with your neighbor. You both should seek to give concessions when possible and then sign a deed having the record of the boundary lines of both parcels. Let your lawyer work with your on this agreement. Then have it filed with the land registry office.
4. Look Up Your Community’s Lot Line Laws And Seek A Mediator
If you seem to be unable to reach a suitable agreement with your neighbor, then you look up your local community’s property line laws to know what laws may apply to your unique circumstance. You could also seek the assistance of a mediator for expert advice on what you both could do to resolve your situation. Read about mediation here.
If all else fails, then by all means go to war. Not literally. First you should:
5. Get Your Lawyer To Send A Letter
This lets your neighbor know that you are serious about the property line dispute. This is the right move if your neighbor encroached on your land and you both have failed to reach an agreement. In the letter your attorney should include details of the boundary line trespass and request for actions to be taken in order to settle the dispute. Remember to give your neighbor some time to respond to the letter before you take the next step.
6. File A Law Suit
As a last resort to make sure the line dispute gets resolved, you should file a law suit against your neighbor. It is safe to mention here that law suits cost a lot of money and should only be done if everything listed above fails. If the portion of your parcel taken is very small, you can let it go, as a law suit for a small strip of land is not worth it. But if your neighbor has taken several plots (measuring into acres) of your parcel, then a law suit is required, because it is a significant lot. Be sure that your attorney is experienced in handling boundary line disputes and thoroughly understands local and state laws.
Property line disputes can be messy but it is important that you do not let it go unresolved as this may affect you negatively in the future, especially when you want to sell the property. And you could lose a valuable portion of your parcel to adverse possession if your neighbor has been using it for a few years. Property line dispute can put a strain in your relationship with your neighbor, so try to resolve it as peacefully as possible and only take severe legal actions when that doesn’t yield results.