Two adjacent landowners who differ over who truly owns a piece of property are often involved in a title dispute. In other words, the title to that plot of land is in dispute amongst the property owners. However, boundary disputes typically arise when two contiguous landowners disagree on the exact location of the boundary between their two parcels of land.
When one property owner wishes to make a change to their property, a boundary dispute frequently results because the other property owner, sometimes a neighbor, questions the right to do so and claims the change would infringe onto their property.
An illustration of this would be if a homeowner wanted to add on to their house, but their neighbor claimed the addition crossed the property line into their land. Another scenario is when a neighbor believes a tree or branch is entirely or partially on their property, but the property owner wants to remove the tree or branch because they believe it is on their property.
Many landowners are unsure of the actual location of their property lines. This is problematic because landowners are only allowed to make changes to their own property, such as adding on to their homes or removing trees.
What exactly does a title and boundary dispute entail? Imagine two properties that are next to each other and share a boundary fighting over a little plot of land. who is edging closer to who.
What Should I Do If I and My Neighbor Are Arguing Over a Boundary?
As may be observed, disagreements over boundaries occur frequently with nearby landowners. Additionally, when one property owner does a survey on their property, title and boundary conflicts with neighbors are highly frequent. Surveys frequently show that the owner of an adjacent property has intruded onto the surveyed land.
Before taking any legal action against your neighbor over a boundary issue, it’s crucial to maintain composure and carefully consider your claim to the boundary.
In order to see if the boundary dispute may be resolved amicably without additional action on your part, you should always first try to communicate with the other party. They might agree to simply trim the branches on their side or even move the fence line in your favor if they wish to cut down a tree that you think is within your boundary lines, for instance.
However, if you are unable to come to an agreement, you should be prepared to take all required steps to settle a border dispute. For instance, if you do not already have a copy of your deed, it is crucial to first visit your local county land records office and hunt up the deed to your property.
Your property’s boundaries will be clearly defined in the deed to your land. You should also be able to obtain the neighborhood plat map, which displays all of the boundary lines.
If the trespasser does not leave your property, you may then launch a lawsuit against them after obtaining the necessary documents that show the property’s boundaries. Trespass lawsuits and declaratory judgment lawsuits are the two types of lawsuits that are frequently filed in border dispute instances.
You ask the court to rule, or issue a declaration, about both the location of the actual boundary lines and who should win the boundary dispute when you file a declaratory judgment lawsuit. In a trespass case, you would demand that the other party stop trespassing on your property as well as financial compensation for past trespasses that occurred without your consent.
What if the dispute over the title or boundaries involves natural resources?
In addition to rules prohibiting trespass to land, title or border conflicts over natural resources may involve other areas of the law. For instance, you will need to examine your local rules on riparian ownership (i.e., who may possess or use water as it flows or touches a property) or contact a riparian lawyer if the border dispute is over who has the rights to water, such as a river or stream.
You might need to speak with an oil and gas lawyer to help you with that specific problem if the title or boundary dispute involves access to oil and gas or other minerals that naturally occur underneath your land or inside your boundary lines. Other title or boundary conflicts that could impact a landowner’s rights exist in addition to the ones mentioned above, including:
Air rights, Improvement rights, Vegetation rights, Latitudinal or Subjacent Support Rights, and Public Nuisance Rights.
How Can You Find the Limits of Your Property?
Again, consulting your property deed and the local plat records is the best way to identify the boundaries of your land. If you don’t already have a copy of your deed, you can order one online or by going to your county clerk’s office in person.
Having a real property survey made on your land is another option for figuring out your property’s boundaries. Surveyors will make sure that no one has encroached on your property by following your boundary lines back to the land’s original deed. The boundary lines for your property will be carefully computed and measured and included in the real property survey report.
How Can You Tell If There Is a Title Dispute?
The legal ownership of a plot of land is once more referred to by the phrase “real estate title.” Your local county clerk’s record office should have the legal title to your property on file. Importantly, you should promptly record your title if you have acquired a home or gained title to a piece of property without doing so in order to avoid a number of distinct title issues.
Any information affecting the present owner’s property rights shall be disclosed in the title deeds. The history of the transfer of title from one party to another is therefore the ideal place to look to see if there is a title dispute.
There would be a clear title dispute over that particular piece of property if a title search at your county clerk’s office indicates that a prior grantor gave title to several parties for a single piece of property. In addition, liens or mortgages placed on the land, as well as the existence of any easements, may give rise to title problems.
When buying a new piece of land, you should think about getting title insurance and make sure you get a warranty deed in order to lessen your chances of expensive title disputes.
Prior to your acquisition of the property, title insurance providers will make sure that your title is free and clear of any competing interests; in some situations, they’ll even stand up for you in case of a future boundary dispute.
Do I Require Legal Counsel If I Have a Title or Boundary Dispute?
Again, discussion with the other party you are in a disagreement with is the best way to settle title and boundary issues. However, if discussion fails to resolve the title or boundary dispute, you should speak with a skilled and educated real estate attorney in your region right away.
An expert real estate lawyer can clarify your land ownership rights to you and help you comprehend the local rules governing title and boundary issues. Additionally, a lawyer will be able to help you file a lawsuit against the other party. Finally, a lawyer can appear on your behalf at any required court sessions.
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Craig Cherney is a trusted client advisor and a sought after real estate expert witness who is hired by the nation’s top Real Estate Litigation Attorneys to help resolve their litigated real property matters. Craig has appeared as a testifying expert witness before judges and juries in California, Arizona, Nevada and other jurisdictions across the country. Craig Cherney, Esq. Expert Witness Real Estate. 480-399-2342.
Disclaimer: This Post Is Not Legal Advice.
You should not ever depend on an online post for legal advice as the law and codes changes often, information sometimes might not be accurate, there can be exceptions to the rule, and wholesale reliance on such matters could be damaging. Always consult with experienced attorneys for current, effective, and factual legal advice.