Boundary Disputes 101: What You Need To Know

boundary disputeBoundary disputes are some of the most common problems in real estate law today, and if you’ve encountered a boundary dispute with your neighbor, it’s important to realize that you’re definitely not alone! The best way to approach any boundary dispute is to contact a real estate attorney and discuss the problem at hand, along with possible solutions.

With that in mind, here’s a quick guide about what you should expect during a boundary dispute with your neighbor:

  • Most homebuyers (around 77%) have inspections done on a home before purchasing it in order to identify any necessary repairs — and also to clarify things like boundaries between properties. If you’ve encountered a boundary dispute after purchasing a new home, the problem might really be as simple as a misunderstanding or miscommunication of where one property ends and another begins. It’s important to make sure that you have records of any inspections done prior to the dispute.
  • Many homeowners turn to real estate lawyers who also serve as negotiators/mediators and will work out a solution without taking the case to court (which can be very expensive and time-consuming). You may also consider calling a land surveyor to make an unbiased report on the disputed boundary line.
  • There are few more drastic ways to approach the problem as well, but it’s important to understand that these may not end well unless you have a strong case. You can sue your neighbor for trespassing on your property, for example, but you might end up living next to your enemy after the whole process is over (and no one would be happy in that situation).
  • It’s common for two neighbors to get along well until the issue of property improvements is at stake. Similar to California’s Statute of Frauds regarding three types of contracts, you’ll need to receive official approval (usually in the form of a paper permit) to make certain improvements to your property before beginning construction. Without the prior approval, your neighbors will likely be able to take legal action against you if they decide they aren’t pleased with your new home improvement project (and vice versa).

All in all, you’ll want to make sure that you consider your options before taking a boundary dispute to court. Many real estate lawyers can negotiate a settlement for these disputes which please both parties involved. It’s estimated that around 95% of cases can be handled outside of the courtroom, and a good real estate law firm will be able to help you navigate the process — even if it ends up involving court.