Boundary disputes are a common area of disagreement between property owners. No matter the type of encroachment, property owners take their rights seriously. Property owners have the right to enjoy their entire land; however, it is not always easy to do so when another property owner has their interpretation of what is theirs or uses their land without regard to you and your rights. These scenarios generally require the assistance of a boundary disputes attorney to resolve.
Common Types of Land Disputes Between Property Owners (Commercial or Residential)
A common type of boundary dispute is when two property owners are claiming the same piece of property. There may be several reasons why these disputes arise, including:
- Poorly marked boundaries
- Incorrectly placed improvements, support buildings, walls, driveways, or other structures
- Encroaching fence lines onto one owner’s property
- Conflicting property surveys
- Inadequate description of the property and its lines in a deed
It does not matter how much of an encroachment there is on a property. Even a few inches’ worth could be a reason for you to go to court to enforce your property rights. For example, a commercial tenant may not be able to use the land that you are renting to them if you do not hold complete title to the entire land you claim. Also, in a residential context, a title company may not issue insurance if the entire property described in the deed is not yours. You have the legal right to all of your property, and you do not have to accept any type of encroachment.
If you get into a dispute you can try to negotiate a boundary agreement, but you are not required to compromise your rights. There are a number of creative solutions you may be able to use to resolve boundary disputes. For example, a court may order that encroachments be removed from your property or your neighbor’s property, or the compulsory purchase of land that is in dispute, and possibly with a resulting easement for the seller.
Additional Types of Boundary Disputes
There are other types of boundary disputes you could face, including:
- When your neighbor’s house, shed, or other improvements encroach on your property
- When your neighbor’s landscaping is encroaching on your yard
- When you or your neighbor need access to the other’s property for ingress or egress
- When a new survey gives an owner a different impression of where the lot line is
- When one owner has adversely possessed the property of another over a period of time
You Cannot Let a Boundary Dispute Go Unaddressed
You must act promptly to enforce your property rights. If you allow an adjacent property owner to claim the use of your land for a certain period, you may waive your right to file a claim to remove them and there be nothing you can do about it. If your neighbor has established a squatter’s rights because they have been allowed to traverse or use your property (or have not been stopped), that could be recognized by a court as adverse possession. Generally, courts could allow practices that have continued over time to remain unless you have indicated that you disagree with what is occurring.
While you must take action quickly, you should also act rationally. Disputes between property owners can get heated, and anything you do wrong may be used against you if your boundary dispute goes to court. It is best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney, bringing the relevant documents to them and letting them review the situation. Your lawyer will give you advice on handling the situation and they can deal with your adjacent property owner and/or their attorney directly in attempting to reach a resolution. The most effective approach might even be discussing the matter directly with the adjacent property owner, using the advice your attorney gives you.
The Legal Process for Boundary and Property Disputes
If discussions with the adjacent owner do not resolve the boundary disputes issue, you may need to send a formal legal demand letter. This letter can state your position and request action. An experienced attorney can draft a letter that can be substantiated with surveys and other proof of your claims.
There are at least two different ways you can take the matter to court:
- A continuing trespass action is when you ask a judge to eject someone who is illegally using your land. The judge may award you monetary damages in the process.
- A declaratory judgment is when you proactively ask a judge to decide the dispute over ownership of the land in a request to quiet title. This type of legal action can resolve the dispute once and for all, even if you do not get monetary damages.
Both types of disputes may be costly to litigate, but you may be left with no choice.
Boundary Disputes that Do Not Involve Physical Encroachment
There are other types of boundary disputes that two neighbors could have that do not involve the actual division of land. An adjacent property owner could encroach on your property in other ways, including:
- A nuisance lawsuit, when something on one owner’s property interferes with another’s use and enjoyment of their property (including lights, noise, and smells)
- Riparian disputes when one owner’s action on their property can damage yours by causing runoff or flooding your property
- Illegal interference with existing waterways
- Blocking your driveway
These types of lawsuits may have different procedures. With one of these lawsuits, you may be seeking an injunction where a judge would order one party to stop the conduct. In addition, you may also ask a court to award you monetary damages for the harm you have suffered.
Before a judge will issue a ruling in your boundary disputes case, they may require the two parties to try mediation to resolve the dispute. Alternative dispute resolution can be a cost-effective and less stressful way to resolve a difficult situation.
Our attorneys will review your situation and advise you on the type of action that could work best for you. The hope is that litigation would not be necessary; however, our lawyers are prepared to argue your case in court. Even if you try to resolve the situation, you should also prepare for potential litigation.
Boundary Disputes Attorney in Georgia
The Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, PC have over 25 years of experience fighting for the rights of Georgia property owners. We counsel our clients to use common sense legal solutions that are best tailored to their situation. If you find yourself involved in a boundary dispute with an adjacent property owner, getting legal help is a must.