When you purchase a piece of real estate, the condition of the property and the opportunities or restrictions innate to the space are not the only issues you must address. You may also find that your property comes with complications you did not anticipate with your neighbors, especially where it concerns the legal boundaries of the property.
This is common in both residential and commercial settings, and deserves direct, effective attention. Failing to properly resolve a boundary dispute with a neighbor may create an ongoing source of contention that can significantly impact your time in the property and the ways you use the property.
In many cases, these disputes arise when one party or the other wishes to implement landscaping or fencing along the border, which the neighbor does not approve or believes encroaches on his or her own property. If you find yourself facing a boundary dispute with your neighbor, you may have a number of tools available to resolve it.
Obtain a professional property survey
Typically, selling or buying a piece of property involves some form of survey to properly represent the property’s boundaries. However, depending on the wording of the original deed and the nature of the property, this survey may not truly reflect the legal boundaries. An additional independent survey may help resolve the matter.
If you do find that you correctly assessed the boundary previously, be mindful to check the relevant building codes to understand any restrictions you may face when building a fence or changing the property in some other way. A particularly motivated or annoyed neighbor may suddenly display a surprising knowledge of building codes and gladly report you for any potential violations.
Quiet title lawsuits
If a survey and its results do not resolve your boundary dispute, you may try approaching a judge to establish the boundaries of the property through a quiet title lawsuit. Such a suit simply petitions the court to issue a legal ruling to resolve a boundary dispute, although these suits are not always heard.
Your boundary dispute is worth handling the right way. Even if you can reach an informal agreement on boundaries with your neighbor, be sure to get any agreement that you plan to enforce in writing and consider reviewing it through the eyes of the law. However you ultimately resolve this issue, the effort you put into addressing it properly and equitably, the more likely you are to achieve your goals and keep your own rights and privileges protected in the long run.