Property Disputes with Neighbors

When disputes arise

We have all heard the old adage that “good fences make good neighbors” and that is certainly true. No matter how well you get along with your neighbors or how often you socialize together, a good fence makes for better privacy and the ability to feel as though you can enjoy your yard as you see fit. The problem comes when one of you decides to put up a fence and neither of you are really sure where the property line is. While most property disputes are over fences, really it could be any structure such as an outdoor shed or an addition to the home itself.

Property disputes are not limited to fences and buildings; often they will come up when damage occurs. This often happens when there are trees along the property line. Roots can encroach onto your property and wreak havoc on the plumbing or foundation of your home. In this case, it is the neighbor’s responsibility to fix any damage. The same applies to limbs breaking off and landing on your side of the property line; again it is the neighbor’s responsibility to repair anything broken. However, leaves sap or acorns from your neighbor’s trees are considered a normal occurrence and it is up to you to clean it up.

Can the dispute be sorted out amicably?

You always want to try and sort this out as amicably as possible, these are your neighbors and you could be living next door to them for a very long time. So the first thing that the both of you should do is find copies of your deeds, there is a good chance that the deed will tell you exactly where the property lines are. If the information is not on the deed it may be time to hire a surveyor to find the property line. A surveyor is not going to be free; someone is going to have to pay for it. Who pays for it will have to be something you work out with your neighbor.

Do you need to resort to legal means?

Before you take that final step and contact a lawyer, check with your homeowners association as well, many of them offer mediation services to resolve situations exactly like yours. Take every step you can to avoid escalating the situation until it becomes a court case. Save both your neighbor and yourself a great deal of time, money and a lot of hurt feelings.