What Are The Legal Steps In Handling A Property Boundary Dispute?
Disputes over property boundaries are among the most common problems in real estate law. Handling the legal process the right way may significantly improve your chances of prevailing in a dispute. A real estate attorney will typically encourage you to take the following steps.
Collect Documentation and Records
All forms of law are heavy with documentation, but real estate law is especially heavy with it. Knowing the current and previous condition of the title is important because it speaks to who owns what. For example, a subdivision might have left lingering questions about where the boundaries are supposed to be. County registry records then attest to not only the present state of the property line but what it used to be. If there was a mistake at some point in the past, this may inform the current dispute.
It is also wise to know the literal lay of the land. Contract a surveying firm to get a better sense of where the property lines are supposed to be. Frequently, people shift the line with little moves. For example, someone might place a fence on the wrong side of the line without knowing it. Future generations simply accept the placement of the fence without question. A survey might reveal the fence was always on the wrong side of the line.
Similarly, land and water features can shift surprisingly fast. If you assumed the line extends from a nearby creek to an overlooking hill, for example, things may have changed in the intervening years. A survey can correct these issues and answer many questions.
Check Local Regulations
Many boundary disputes involve who can or can't do something near the property line. For example, you might want to cut down a tree that crosses from the neighbor's property onto yours. Knowing the rules for the treatment of the boundary might solve the dispute.
Talk and Negotiate
Once you have all of the relevant information about the disposition of the boundary, you can talk with your neighbor about it. Ideally, you and the neighbor can sort things out with a peaceful conversation. If you need to implement an easement, a real estate attorney can draft one.
Lawsuits and Injunctions
If you can't resolve the matter, you may have to go to court. Foremost, a real estate attorney will likely seek an injunction. This is a court order that prevents any changes to the situation while legal action is pending. You can then ask the court to consider a permanent solution.