One of the most basic facts about a property is the boundary line that separates that property from others. We assume that decades-old title documents or boundary fences are an accurate depiction of property boundaries, but we may discover after purchasing property that the true lines are not what they previously appeared to be. Addressing incorrect boundary lines can be a thorny issue, requiring the assistance of an experienced real estate attorney. Read on to learn more about boundary disputes in California, and contact a seasoned San Diego real estate litigation attorney with any additional questions.
How do boundary disputes happen?
Boundary disputes between neighbors are surprisingly common—one of the most common sources of property litigation. Until recently, conducting an accurate boundary survey of a parcel of land was not as easy as it has become with modern technological tools. Therefore, it’s common to discover that longstanding boundaries such as fences or hedgerows are not located along the true boundary lines of the property. In some cases, previous owners may have agreed to one neighbor locating their fence or other border in such a way that it encroached on their neighbor’s property, but failed to memorialize this agreement in writing.
What do California property owners do to resolve boundary disputes?
If you believe that a neighbor’s property boundary encroaches on land you own, your first step should be to obtain a property survey from a licensed surveyor. This way, you’ll have a reliable depiction of where the property boundaries should be located, in contrast to where they’re currently marked. You may want to conduct a new title search, as well, in case the search that occurred when you purchased the property failed to turn up the fact that a prior owner of your property granted an easement (right to use that is shy of true ownership) or even ownership outright of a portion of the property.
If all evidence points to the fact that your neighbor has, in fact, encroached on your property, you may also wish to obtain an appraisal of the value of the encroached-upon land. This way, if you decide that you’d rather have the value of the land than for your neighbor to relocate their fence or other improvements, you’ll have an idea of the value of a potential settlement that would resolve the issue.
It would be wise to speak with an experienced land use or real property attorney for guidance on how to proceed, though you may not need the attorney to get involved just yet. If you’re on amicable terms with your neighbor, try speaking with them about the issue first, explaining what you’ve learned and seeing if you can come to a resolution outside of court. If these conversations aren’t productive, your attorney can help you decide on your next course of action, whether it be a demand letter or filing a claim in court.
If you are facing a complex property dispute in Southern California, find out about your legal options by contacting the seasoned and knowledgeable San Diego real estate litigation attorney Jon Alan Enochs for a consultation, at 619-421-3956.