How To Handle Real Estate Boundary Disputes?
You may have heard the saying, “Tall fences make good neighbors.” Most easement attorneys, no doubt, concur with this statement. However, sometimes a tall fence simply is not enough to avoid a property line dispute. We will cover some basic items with regards to property disputes and what you can do about them, however, please note, any easement or real estate boundary dispute can delay a sale, cause legal battles and more. It’s important that you real out and discuss your situation with Equity Legal LLP with our FREE 15 minute consultation.
- Neighbor Disputes
- Tree Issues
- Property Lines
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Boundary Disputes & Fences
A boundary dispute can occur any time a structure, such as home addition or fence, crosses a property line. In order to deal with the situation, you first need to contact your neighbor. See if you can compare your deeds. The deeds’ wording should clarify the location of the property lines.
If the deeds are not specific in this regard, you will need to request a survey. Whether you pay for the survey yourself or share in the cost will naturally depend on the type of relationship you have with your neighbor.
Remember – a neighbor rarely starts an argument randomly about a boundary. Normally, disputes arise when the owner of a property makes an improvement or change. For example, he or she erects a fence. Disputes can turn into lawsuits if the structure:
- Crosses the boundary
- Is built without obtaining the required building permit
- Has not been approved by a homeowner’s association or planning commission
- Violates the current local ordinance or state law, or a homeowner’s association’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs)
- Violates a restrictive covenant (a clause added to a deed that restricts property use)
- Blocks a drive or path, or interferes with the established use of real property
- By speaking to a property line attorney, you can anticipate any defenses that may occur as the result of litigation.
Property Line Disputes – Tree Issues
In some instances, boundary disputes are rooted, literally, in a tree. For example, if the limbs of a tree are hanging precariously over your fence and ultimately fall and damage your fence, legally, your neighbor, is responsible for the damages, including the clean-up.
If the roots of a neighbor’s tree are invading your property, they are considered to be an encroachment. If the roots cross the boundary and push up through your yard, the neighbor, by law, must remove the tree.
If the acorns, pods, or leaves of your neighbor’s tree fall into your yard, this should not be a reason for a dispute. In this case, it is considered natural, and therefore does not merit any type of discord.
Sometimes, a boundary dispute will involve animals. For example, if a dog that is unleashed may cross the property line and damage your flowers or leaves, or leave an unwanted mess, you will have to review the ordinances where you live and consult with a property line lawyer. If a neighbor’s pet trespasses and is considered dangerous, its owner can be held accountable for any damage or injuries.
Real Estate Disputes Amongst Family
Property line disputes can also extend to inherited properties or can arise after a divorce. In any of these cases, it is best to seek assistance from a lawyer who fully understand property line laws in California. Whether you are taking up the issue with a neighbor or sibling, you need to fully understand your rights, and know what method is the best option to take for a resolution.
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Property line disputes can escalate if a neighbor clearly crosses the boundary line and carves a path through your yard. You may even find him or her using your land—fishing or hunting—without permission.
This type of trespass can best be dealt with by first calling the police. In some instances, you can record each trespass and file a report with the local authorities. Make sure to take down the times and dates. Added evidence can be obtained by taking photos, or obtaining statements from witnesses.
How to Resolve a Property Line Dispute
When a dispute arises, it typically results from confusions or uncertainty. Maybe, you and your neighbor have not examined your respective deeds. If you are seeking help from a property line attorney, he or she will normally encourage that the dispute be solved in a spirit of cooperation. You never want to make your neighbor an adversary, especially if you live right next door.
Therefore, the first steps taken during a dispute should be proactive. Schedule a time to discuss the situation and review the pertinent legal paperwork, primarily in the form of deeds, a survey, and plat maps.
By sharing objective documentation, further conflicts can be avoided. Many times, a boundary dispute is basically a misunderstanding. If the factual details cannot be used to resolve any differences, a property line lawyer can arrange for mediation. A mediator can be used to create alternatives that would not be extended in a court of law. For instance, perhaps a creative way can be facilitated to share the land that would benefit each party.