How can you effectively handle a property line dispute with neighbors?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Real Estate Law

Good fences may make good neighbors – but where can you put a fence when you and the neighbors cannot agree on the boundary line between your property?

There’s nothing that can cause conflict between neighbors quite so fast as a property line dispute. Things can really get out of hand when it affects one or both party’s plans for where they want to build a fence, a new room, a patio or something else.

What causes property line disputes? How can you resolve them?

Property line disputes can happen for just about any reason, but here are some common causes:

  • Unclear boundaries: Unclear or undocumented property boundaries are a problem in a lot of places. Over time, successive property owners and “word of mouth” about where boundaries lie can lead to a lot of confusion. This is probably the number one reason for disputes between neighbors.
  • Encroachments: Sometimes, a property owner will be so certain that they know where a boundary line is that they barrel ahead and build a shed or a fence that they believe is on their land – and their neighbor does not. That’s usually a source of fast, intense conflict.

Generally speaking, the key to resolving property line disputes with neighbors is addressing them as calmly and strategically as possible. Some options include:

  • Talking to your neighbor: An open, respectful conversation with your neighbor can often be productive, especially if you express a desire to work together to avoid conflict.
  • Get a professional survey: This is the number one way to resolve any disputes. An accurate land survey will clarify the boundary lines

At times, no matter what you do, you may not be able to resolve a dispute peacefully. Some neighbors have been known to even move survey pins once a professional survey has been done (even though that is not legal) to try to confuse the issue at hand. Ultimately, when you’re in a heated dispute with your neighbor over a property line, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to better understand your rights and explore your options.