21 Apr When Neighbors Won’t Compromise: How to Resolve Property Line Disputes
So you are experiencing some property line disputes with your neighbor. Worse, they are avoiding compromise.
In this case, you need to seek legal help to resolve the property dispute. However, before you do so – you must understand the cause of the dispute, the territory of land in question, and any options available for remuneration.
All of this greatly depends on the situation and must be considered in order to provide the best possible legal solution by a property dispute lawyer.
Keep reading to find out what to do if your neighbors won’t compromise over a property dispute.
Identifying The Property Line Issue
First things first, verify that you fully understand the nature of the property line disputes. If you are unable to do so on your own or lack the legal understanding, you should acquire professional analysis from a real estate attorney.
If you don’t know what to ask your real estate attorney, these eight questions will help you get some ground on the case.
The attorney should be able to verbalize who encroached on the property of another party. How long did the encroachment last? How much land was encroached upon? Had permission been granted?
The real estate attorney will consider legal frameworks, such as state boundaries, fences, adverse possession, trespassing, zoning, CC&Rs, nuisance, etc.
Additional Information is Necessary to Guide Your Real Estate Attorney
Besides this, you will most likely have to perform a survey, full title search, and appraisal. If you have had these done previously, you can use the earlier documentation to prevent unnecessary expenses. However, if you are using this information within the compounds of a trial, new documentation is required.
The surveyor will determine the physical boundary, based on the legal description on the deed. This helps verify your understanding and your neighbor’s comprehension of the property lines.
The appraiser will establish the market value for the property.
A title search will help discover all documents, pertinent to the title of the property. This will help determine if there are any easements/deeds that affect your current ownership. For example, the previous owner could have granted easements to the neighbor or deeded the property to them. Sometimes this information is not included on your end.
If you received a quitclaim deed or purchased title insurance policy – and did not receive this information from their searches, then they will be responsible for covering costs for sorting the property line disputes.
At this point, speak with your real estate attorney – to establish, if you have a case and if you are the one encroaching on the neighbor’s property.
A Demand Letter To Refresh Memory
Let’s just assume that you’ve tried speaking to your neighbor, face to face. They were hesitant and did not want to compromise. Perhaps they were even hostile towards you.
Start off slow – ask your real estate attorney to send a demand letter to the neighbor, explaining the situation at hand and requesting some sort of action or an offer for settlement.
A settlement offer might include steps to divide property, modify the boundary lines or provide monetary compensation to settle the property line dispute.
In most cases, purchasing the property at the question is usually cheaper than proceeding to trial with your neighbor.
If you decide to proceed with legal action, your neighbor will most likely forward the letter to their attorney. It’s important to share all surveys, title work, and appraisals – in order to show that you are honest and willing to discuss.
Despite this, don’t be surprised if the neighbor does not want to incur costs to further the legal action on both ends.
Court, Settlements, Legal Action
If your demand letter and any other form of discussion are not providing hoped-for results – it would be a great time to file a quiet title or a complaint. You ask the court to consider all of the evidence, including your neighbor’s arguments – to decide who legally owns the land at the question.
At this point, you can expect to begin exponentially increasing the costs involved in pursuing legal action, as extensive research and paperwork are required to submit documents to the court.
If the case appears to be leaning towards settlement, your real estate attorney will attempt to lower costs involved by limiting document requests, such as admissions and interrogatories. Working towards settlement is always preferable, as it keeps relationships at bay and costs down.
However, never forget the possibility of trial.
In case of a settlement, the court will tempt to mediate the legal suit. Make sure to select an authentic mediator who can help discuss and negotiate, while providing real-world analysis towards the possible outcomes of the trial. A retired judge is your best bet, but there are other options.
If mediation falls through, prepare for trial. Determine how much the land is worth, and whether you are prepared to take on the financial burdens of trial. Regardless of if you win or lose, you are likely to incur some expense during this process.
The Lawsuit Process
If you decide to continue, you can consider these processes:
First, you can pursue a trespassing suit. You will ask the judge to help find that the neighbor was found trespassing on your land, and ask them to remove the neighbor’s possessions or self from the land.
In this type of lawsuit, you can win some money over damages, if you can show that the value of your home has depreciated over your neighbor’s occupation over part of the land.
Second, you can pursue declaratory judgment. This is a process of placing the property line dispute before the judge to help him decide whether or not you own the land at the question. In this case, there are no monetary awards, making it a friendlier approach to litigation.
Property Line Disputes Can Be Resolved In A Myriad Of Ways
Now that you understand how to determine the worthiness of a property line dispute, you can act accordingly. Whether you choose to use less aggressive methods of legal action or full-on sue your neighbor – it will be your choice.
Make sure you make the right one. By understanding the information provided within the confines of this article, you are well on your way to being able to execute a decision without a second thought.
If you would like us to take a look at your case and propose a solution, get in touch with us now.