One of the more common types of lawsuits involving real property is over boundary lines. Typical boundary line issues include disputes about where exactly the boundary line is between two pieces of property and whether one owner is encroaching onto a neighbor’s property in some way.
Boundary line disputes can come up with any type of property: residential, commercial, development, agricultural, or forestry. But no matter what kind of property, when buying property there are a few simple things a person can do to help avoid boundary line disputes in the future.
Almost all property purchasers obtain title insurance as part of their purchase of the property. Before a sale closes, the purchaser typically receives a preliminary title report. This report should be reviewed carefully. If anything looks out of the ordinary, ask questions. If you do not understand something on the report, ask questions. If the concern is big enough, have an attorney review the report to give advice on the issue and how best to resolve it.
A simple walk around the property lines can often reveal things encroaching from a neighbor’s property. You can get a general sense of where the boundary lines should be from looking at the plat map or lot map. You can take that map and walk the property. If anything looks out of the ordinary, ask questions. Things to look out for include fences in areas where you would not expect them or structures like garages, barns, or other types of out-buildings too close to the expected boundary line.
Finally, if your visual inspection raises questions about a possible encroachment, do not hesitate to obtain a survey from a property surveyor before your purchase of the property closes. It will be money well spent. A survey can conclusively determine where exactly the boundary lines are and if anything is over the lines. This information is good to know before you buy the property. Boundary line problems are much easier to work out in advance before a lawsuit is filed.
Boundary line lawsuits can be expensive. They can drag on for years. Often high emotions are involved. And very often, neighbors are arguing over small amounts of property. Sometimes as little as 6 inches! Therefore, people are well-advised to obtain as much information as possible about the property lines before buying real estate. And if any issues are discovered they should be resolved before the purchase is completed. Following these tips can help avoid expensive lawsuits after a property has been purchased.
Disclaimer: This article and blog are intended to inform the reader of general legal principles applicable to the subject area. They are not intended to provide legal advice regarding specific problems or circumstances. Readers should consult with competent counsel with regard to specific situations.
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