A Guide to Resolving Property Line or Boundary Disputes

Feb 26, 2022 | real estate litigation

Property lines or boundary lines refer to invisible lines that define a property’s perimeter. You can find a mention of these in the deed of a property, telling you exactly where it begins and ends.  Property line disputes take place because of different reasons. For instance, there could be an inaccuracy in a deed description that has stayed in place for a prolonged period. No matter what type of property line dispute you’re involved in, getting in touch with a real estate attorney might work well for you.

Common Types of Property Line Disputes

It is fairly common for property line, boundary, and fence issues to result in real estate disputes. While these take place because of different reasons, some are more common than others.

  • Lot line disputes. A lot line dispute typically takes place when one or both neighbors have a misconception about where the property line actually is, and it does not conform to the survey. If you wish to argue for a prescriptive easement, you need to show that you’ve been using the area in question for five or more years.
  • Trespassing refers to knowingly occupying a piece of real estate that does not belong to you. Property owners are well within their rights to keep trespassers at bay. Anyone who accesses your property regularly without your permission may be held liable for trespassing.
  • An encroachment refers to a property owner crossing into another’s property lines, either by extending a feature or building a structure. Irrespective of whether it’s a driveway that’s eating into your land or a fence that’s been pushed too far out, it’s important that you settle the issue before it turns into an easement, which would then give the encroacher rights to your property.

How to Resolve Property Line Disputes?
Oftentimes, simply having a friendly conversation with your neighbor might do the trick. If it does not, this is what you may expect going forward:

  • Property survey. A property survey carried out by a licensed surveyor should help establish property lines. However, this can be challenging when dealing with deeds of old properties that come with seemingly inaccurate legal descriptions or wording that’s no longer applicable.
  • Boundary line agreement. A boundary line agreement takes place when two adjacent property owners agree on a precise property line in the absence of an otherwise certain boundary.
  • Quiet title lawsuit. When a survey fails to solve a property line dispute, getting in touch with a real estate attorney might be the best way forward. This is because you might need to file a quiet title lawsuit and get a judge to decide where your case stands.
  • Adverse possession. Someone who’s not the owner of a property but uses it for several years might be able to lay claim to it through the adverse possession route. In California, the non-owner seeking possession needs to meet various conditions such as having openly used the property for at least five years, and having paid property taxes toward the property for equally long.

Even if you have a survey that lends support to your claim in a property line dispute, the ruling does not necessarily have to be in your favor. For instance, if a fence has remained undisputed for several years, a court might enforce the same as the boundary line.

Conclusion

There is no telling which way a property line dispute might turn, especially if a friendly conversation with your neighbor does not produce desired results. If you feel you might need to pursue matters legally, getting in touch with a law firm that specializes in handling real estate litigation might be in your best interest.

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