Boundary dispute with a neighbor: What to do next

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Dealing with a boundary dispute with a neighbor is not uncommon. Problems can arise for a variety of reasons, none of which tend to be pleasant. Many counties and municipalities have neglected to update their property records. Therefore, a neighbor could build something on your property line unknowingly. If this happens, suddenly you could have a legal issue to contend with.

Whether your neighbor didn’t know or they very well understand where the property lines were drawn and simply ignore them all together, this is never good. Whether the infringement against your property is intentional or not, the law offers protection for property owners. Here are some tips to help you deal with a neighborly real estate dispute quickly and without lasting repercussions.

Be sure to understand the issue

In many cases, a boundary dispute could be a simple misunderstanding. To determine whether or not you are correct in your perception of property lines, you will need to order the following:

  • A survey of the property lines
  • An appraisal of the property
  • A title search to search for any past or present ownership issues

A survey will officially determine where property lines are located while an appraisal will place a valuation on the property in question. This could be helpful should your case end up in court.

If you had a title search performed on the property when you bought it, chances are you will not have any title issues that could cloud the dispute you have with your neighbor. However, if you did not have a title search done when you purchased your property, it could be required to make sure there were no issues with chain of title or the creation of easements you might not be aware of.

Surveys, title work, and appraisals help to enforce contracts in which neighbors must adhere to in regard to the treatment of real estate. Encroachments against these contracts help you determine what to do next. Click here for info about how to act if someone doesn’t agree to do what was stipulated in the contract.

Have a talk with your neighbor

Often, a dispute with a neighbor can be settled through a calm and rational discussion. They may not know they have done anything wrong, and a simple conversation could offer a remedy. However, approaching your neighbor in an angry, accusatory way will not solve anything.

If civil conversation does not correct the problem, the next step could be to send a certified letter to your neighbor demanding that they take action to correct the situation. The letter should state the issue clearly and cite your legal protections. It should also state what you would like the remedy to be and determine a timeframe in which the solution should be carried out.

Use the courts

This should be a final solution if the demand letter does not work. Court can be costly, time consuming, and could cause a great deal of bad feeling between you and your neighbor. Therefore, you should try everything else before taking this option.

You should also consider speaking with an attorney before filing a court case. The attorney would have a good understanding of how to use property laws for your particular case. They also could have suggestions that may solve your issue without dealing with the court.

If your case does go before a judge, be sure that you have all of your legal arguments organized and ready to present. The judge could also order mediation in order to settle your issue outside of court. You could also ask the judge for any legal fees to be reimbursed by the defendant when you win your case.


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