How to Resolve Boundary Disputes

Property line disputes put both property owners in a difficult situation. Both parties want the issue resolved in their favor, but they generally do not want conflict with their neighbors. Taking your neighbor to court can be a very uncomfortable ordeal, regardless of whether you win or lose the case.

Figure Out Your Boundary Lines

The first step is to be absolutely certain of the property boundary lines.  You will need to review the legal description of your property in your deed. If the boundary issue is clear from the description, you be able to settle the issue quickly, while staying friendly with your neighbor, but legal descriptions are technical and difficult to read.  It is a rare case that can be resolved by simply reviewing the deed.

If the description does not make it easy to determine the physical boundary location, you may need to develop other evidence, this is typically a land  survey and testimony from a surveyor.  In some cases, testimony from previous owners of the landand location of lot markers may assist. The exact evidence you need to prove your case will depend on your unique situation.

Once you know the precise boundaries, it may be possible to agree to move a fence, or to agree on a sale price to the encroacher.  If you are unable to settle your property line dispute, you may have to pursue, or at least threaten, legal action. You may have several different types of claims against your neighbor.

Legal Claims Available During Boundary Disputes

You may file a claim to quiet title, which will have a court resolve  who owns the disputed land. Before you file your claim, talk to a real estate attorney to make sure you have exhausted options to negotiate a settlement, and to confirm that you have the evidence to back up your claim.  There are also steps you should take before filing the lawsuit to make your claim eligible for an attorney fee recovery.

You may also have an action for trespass. If you win, you may get monetary damages, or an injunction against your neighbor. If your neighbor was building an addition to their property on you land, they will have to tear it down.

If you are the one encroaching on a neighbor’s land, you could attempt to get title to the land by adverse possession. If you have had continuous possession of the disputed land for many years, you may be able to gain legal title  . The length of time you need to possessed the land will vary depending on the details of the particular land.

If negotiations fail, there are options for resolving your dispute through litigation. It is usually simpler to either have your neighbor buy the disputed land from you, or come to an agreement. But when parties cannot agree, the legal process offers options to force a resolution.

Chernoff Law handles real estate litigation matters throughout Arizona. Contact us by calling 480-719-7307 to discuss your real estate matters.

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