Disputes over properly lines are not uncommon. For most landowners, this problem can be resolved fairly easy. However, there are times when a properly line dispute becomes a very heated issue. When facing this dilemma, make sure that the deed descriptions are accurate. If things between you and your neighbor are civil, the two of you can work things out.
However, if your neighbor is adamant that the land is his or hers, you should go ahead and have a survey done. Just make sure that the survey is performed by someone who is licensed and reputable. That individual will physically locate the boundary of the property in question using the legal description in the deed.
If the survey shows that the land is yours but the neighbor still refuses to give up rights, you may need to get a qualified attorney involved. In addition to the survey, your attorney will likely want both an appraisal of the land and title search performed.
While the appraisal will show the current value of the land, the title search will reveal all recorded documents in the chain of the title for the property. This will show if there are any deeds or easements affecting your ownership. For instance, the person who owned your property prior may have granted the neighbor an easement that was not discovered at the time that you purchased the land. Therefore, until a title search is done, that information will remain hidden.
Understand that a survey, appraisal, and title search might reveal that the property actually belongs to the neighbor. Even if that were the case, paying to find out would be worthwhile. After all, you want to live peacefully next door to that person. Therefore, if the information shows that the property is, in fact, your neighbor’s, the issue can be put to rest.
However, if it is confirmed that you are the legal owner of the property, something your neighbor refuses to accept, the next step is for an attorney to determine if your claim is valid. Although the goal is to try to resolve the issue peacefully with your neighbor, if you do not know that person or there have been issues in the past, your attorney will step in.
If conversations with your neighbor remain unproductive, your attorney can send out a letter that explains the situation. Your attorney can also request appropriate action or make a reasonable offer to settle the issue. A settlement might entail the property being separated to some percentage, or it could result in you receiving a monetary payment.
Your attorney may also recommend mediation. If mediation and a settlement offer are unsuccessful, the next step is to get ready for a trial. For that, the attorney will use the appraisal showing the value of the land, the survey that proves the property is legally yours, documents from the title search, and anything else that would bolster your case. Keep in mind that depending on the amount and type of land being disputed, your attorney may advise that it makes more sense financially to let the issue go.