There are several types of boundary line disputes. Here are the most common disputes with some explanation of each.
Encroachment is when a neighbor builds a structure, such as a building, shed, garage, landscaping or fence that crosses the boundary line of your property. This can be intentional or accidental. In either case, it is trespassing and is against the law.
The first step in resolving this dispute is to request that your neighbor remove whatever is on your property. If this fails, legal action or legal advice may be required. Our real property lawyers will be happy to consult with you and devise a strategy for moving forward. Typically, the strategy involves (1) the lawyer sending a letter, and (2) taking legal action if step 1 fails.
● Trees :
A tree is owned by the person who owns the real property on which the trunk is growing. When a trunk is growing over the property line, each owner owns the tree and is responsible for it.
If your neighbor owns a tree that overhangs the property line, you may trim the tree so long as you don’t destroy the tree.
● Boundary by Acquiescence:
When two neighbors are mistaken about a boundary line, that boundary line will become the new boundary line after 15 years of continuous mistake by both neighbors. This most often occurs when a fence divides the two properties and then fence is not located on the property line.
● Adverse Possession:
When someone acts as though a piece of property belongs to them for at least 7 years, they become the property owner so long as they have also paid the property taxes during that time. Exactly what the possessor has to do to “act” as though they own it differs from case to case. Generally, however, the standard is quite high. For example, a tenant can never win this type of claim. The possessor must not only possess the real property but must also exclude the true owner from accessing the property during the 7 years.
● Easements :
Easements give access rights to a person or company who is not the owner of the property. A very common type of easement is made in favor of utility companies. This allows them to run utilities over or under property they don’t own. Easements can also include the right to drive a vehicle over a driveway or for a pedestrian to use a path. Most easements are in writing. A prescriptive easement is not in writing. Instead, prescriptive easement is made when someone acts as though they have an easement for a very long period of time. In such a case, the right to use the easement becomes legally binding on the property owner.
● Boundary Line Agreement:
A boundary line agreement is a legally binding contract signed by two adjoining property owners and recorded in the office of the county recorder. The contract defines exactly where the property line lies and is legally binding on the existing and future owners of the real property.
Our real estate attorneys are well versed in these issues. They can answer your questions for you and even represent you in court should that be needed.