When a neighbor lets their trees grow into your backyard, it can cause some tension and an uncomfortable conversation. It can be especially frustrating when the neighbor chooses to ignore your pleas, and therefore, you may have no choice but to file a property line dispute claim with a real estate lawyer.
What is a Property Line Dispute?
Your property line, or boundary line, is the invisible line that defines your property on where it begins and where it ends. You should find the property line details in your deed. When a neighbor has a property line dispute, it usually means that the other neighbor has crossed this invisible line.
Types of Property Line Disputes
It is important to know the difference between the two types of property line disputes: encroaching and trespassing.
Encroaching is when a neighbor builds a structure that crosses over the property line, for example. The neighbor could have also built a fence that violates the boundary line. Encroachments can lead to liabilities and litigation costs in court if the dispute escalates or is not resolved immediately.
It is possible that over time, the encroachment can turn into an easement, which gives someone access to your property for a limited purpose, such as allowing children to walk through your yard to get to school.
Trespassing, unlike encroaching, is occupying the neighbor’s land while knowing the property is not yours. Trespassing is a deliberate crossing of the line without having the rights to the property. Under the adverse possession legal doctrine, however, a trespasser could eventually own the property rights after occupying the land for a certain time.
Talk With Your Neighbor First
Before the property line dispute escalates and you decide you want to take legal action, you should first discuss it with them to see if it can be resolved with a mutual agreement. Perhaps it is just a simple misunderstanding of the boundary lines. Once you speak with your neighbor and realize that they won’t cooperate, you can bring in a real estate lawyer to file a property line dispute claim.
How to File a Property Line Dispute Claim
Before you can move forward with the dispute, you should first get all information and an analysis of the encroachment, such as how long the encroachment has been happening, how much of the property is being occupied, and if permission was ever given in the past. You can do this with a three-step approach:
You should get a licensed land surveyor to come to your property to pinpoint the exact boundary outlined in your deed. The surveyor will use specialized equipment to create an accurate map of your property. Doing this can determine how much land your neighbor is encroaching upon. A land surveyor is important for your case, as they can act as legal arbiters, and this evidence will be sufficient in court.
An appraisal estimates the market value of the property in dispute. A professional appraiser will examine the property to give an estimate, which can also be used as evidence in court.
You will want to ensure that your property's title is in your name. A title company or a real estate lawyer will conduct the title search and then give you a report of all the documentation, such as any possible easements or deeds that could affect your property ownership. If you accepted a quit claim deed or a fast transfer of the deed rather than a general warranty deed, this will show up in the report.
Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
You will want to consult with a real estate lawyer to ensure you have enough evidence to file the property line dispute and determine if it is valid. Alternatively to filing a lawsuit, your attorney can also send a cease and desist letter to the neighbor. This letter can offer settlements in the form of a monetary payment, a compromise to divide the property, or a modification of additional boundary lines that are not in the dispute.
Ultimately, your real estate lawyer will guide you through all the steps to securing your property rights. Be advised that hiring an attorney to deal with your neighbor could make them defensive or could cause more tension in the future. Your neighbor could also forward the letter and all documentation to their attorney.
Our Real Estate Lawyers Can Help You
If you want to secure your property rights, our real estate lawyers are here to help. We have years of experience in handling all disputes in real estate law. Contact our law firm today for assistance.