Sometimes, having an informal discussion with your neighbor can help resolve boundary disputes amicably, however it’s always advisable to review all documentation related to your home and property before taking any actions that could cause legal complications.
Land deeds often define property boundaries using landmarks or geographic features that shift over time, creating legal discrepancies between their description and what actually occurs on the ground.
Identifying the Problem
The boundary disputes may stem from any number of causes, from newly constructed fences being installed outside their neighbor’s property line to construction companies encroaching on private land or natural boundaries shifting due to erosion or other factors.
Understand that boundary disputes are more than legal matters; they’re often emotional as well. Resolving these conflicts through litigation can be expensive and time consuming.
In most instances, boundary disputes can be settled amicably through negotiation and/or expert determination of its position. Litigation should only ever be used as a last resort. A court appearance will involve six streams of information flowing toward a judge who must balance them against each other to reach a Judgment.
Identifying the Parties
A boundary dispute usually involves two property owners with differing deeds that do not match up, often as the result of poor or nonexistent original land surveys for their properties. A deed may refer to landmarks or geographic features that no longer exist and land surveys must be performed whenever an ownership changes hands to prevent legal complications from arising.
Idealistically, property owners should always try to resolve boundary disputes amicably with their neighbor in an amicable and cooperative manner. Most people will welcome civilized discussions on this topic to find mutual solutions without incurring conflict and legal proceedings.
If private negotiations fail to work out, the next step should be attempting to reach a compromise by offering either modifications to disputed boundaries or alternative compensation for each party involved. This negotiation approach is similar to civil lawsuit litigation as attorneys and judges will be involved.
When property owners cannot reach an agreement over where to draw property lines, negotiation can often be the better solution than going to court. Negotiations is less expensive and more amicable.
Negotiation begins by engaging the other party in an amicable dialogue and seeing if they’re willing to come to an agreement on how best to resolve their dispute. If this approach doesn’t work, both sides can hire a chartered surveyor to collect evidence and compile a report which they can present in court as evidence against one another.
Escalation into neighboring land can cause disputes that will impact both parties involved as well as your home’s value in the future. Legal action over boundary line disputes can be expensive and emotionally taxing; to avoid them altogether consult a general property surveyor prior to building fences or structures and always maintain documentation of legal boundaries; alternatively arbitration might also be an option available to you.
Even if you and your neighbors have always gotten along well, disputes over property lines may still occur. Common causes include unclear legal descriptions in deeds to adjoining properties and differences in land use as well as errors by surveyors or mistakes on official plats.
Mediation is an informal way for parties in conflict to discuss their situation in an impartial environment and find solutions they can all agree on. A mediator’s house call (earlier is better) allows him or her to assess the area directly – pictures, audio-video recordings and Google Earth are helpful, but cannot replace being there first hand.
If mediation fails, litigation may be your last option for settling property disputes. While litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, it provides a formal way of resolving such matters before a judge. Litigation typically includes the presentation of your case before them and can involve expert witnesses like surveyors, appraisers or economists as witness.