Adjacent landowners are not always in agreement when it comes to where their respective properties end and begin. Boundary disputes between neighbors happen, and it’s not uncommon for that friction to escalate into a legal matter.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to resolve property boundary disputes. Increasing tensions over property lines could cause a real estate headache, but it’s possible to arrive at a fair, legal solution. If you’re in the midst of a property boundary dispute, it’s smart to be aware of the options available to you, as some may fit your situation more than others.
Conduct a property line survey
When you purchase a property, it’s wise to commission a survey. By doing this at the outset, you’ll have a clear idea of where your property boundary lines rest. If, however, you don’t have such a survey, you can acquire an updated version. If you and a neighbor are in a disagreement about a fence or some other structure, establishing the boundary lines per the deed could resolve the issue.
In the instance that the piece of property in dispute has been in use by an adjacent property owner for a number of years, adverse possession may be applicable. It’s somewhat of a quirky legal matter and it employs an unlikely “use it or lose it” philosophy. For example, in the state of Texas, should a trespasser use and improve the land in question continuously for a period of time, the owner has 25 years to challenge their claim before the title then goes to the trespasser.
A position of agreement on boundary lines
One legal solution for a property line dispute is for the neighboring landowners to settle on a physical object to serve as the boundary. As an example, if a fence is agreed upon as a property line, each owner would sign a quitclaim deed to the other, which would give the neighbor ownership of the property on the other side of the fence.
A quiet title lawsuit
In certain scenarios, if they’ve exhausted other avenues, a property owner may decide to request that a judge determine the property boundary lines in dispute. In this instance, the owner would file a quiet title lawsuit, thus leaving it to the court to settle the issue.
If you do find yourself in a property boundary dispute, consulting with a legal professional could be a prudent maneuver. Laws pertaining to this matter can be complex, and an experienced real estate attorney could potentially provide the necessary guidance to reach a positive resolution.