Boundary Disputes: Avoidable Miscommunication or Inevitable Headache?

Anyone who owns real estate needs to legally and emotionally prepare for potential boundary disputes and how they can impact your life, estate, and potential liability. Boundary disputes can happen for many reasons, including unclear property lines, uncooperative neighbors, and adverse possession claims. If you’re still new to property disputes, this blog post will help you understand how they happen, what they mean, and how to take action.

Types of Boundary Disputes

There are many types of boundary disputes, and they’re fairly common. Disputes with property lines and neighbors are some of the most common, especially when fences start being built or repaired. For example, you and your neighbor may have different interpretations of where your property lines begin and end. There often aren’t clear markers, and even with detailed surveys, it can be confusing because the landscape may have changed due to environmental factors like erosion or flooding. 

Adverse possession is also common for both large amounts of acreage and in residential neighborhoods. It happens when your neighbor or another entity has taken control of part of your property over time. An example of this is if you purchase a property and have it surveyed, only to discover after getting your land surveyed that your neighbors built their driveway well into your yard for their convenience.

How to Handle Disputes

If you find yourself in a boundary dispute, taking action rather than ignoring the issue is important. It might feel petty to go after neighbors who built their fenceline a foot over your property, but it can lead to more legal issues and even litigation further down the line. You’re still liable for anything that happens on your property, so if someone builds their shed on your land and it collapses on them, they could file a personal injury claim against you. 

The first step is to review the legal description of your property and obtain a survey of your land. This will provide a basis for your dispute. More often than not, neighbors don’t even realize that they’re encroaching on someone else’s property until a surveyor comes out to place markers on the property lines. Discussing the results with your neighbors could resolve the issue before it’s brought to the courthouse. If you’re concerned at any point that your neighbors might not take the claim seriously, then you must seek the guidance of an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can assist you with communicating with neighbors and provide advice on how to move forward if they refuse to accommodate your claim.

Consequences to Your Property & Estate

For many people, it’s easy to examine their yard from their porch, but not every stretch of land can always be monitored. Traveling along the perimeter of your property on a regular basis can help you avoid adverse possession in many cases, but failing to act may have a real impact on your property line. For example, if your neighbor has used your property long enough and provided substantial improvements, they may be able to claim some rights to it. You may find yourself being forced to sell that piece of land or simply lose it because they have already claimed legal ownership of the property. 

Additionally, boundary disputes can lead to costly and time-consuming litigation for you or your beneficiaries. Legal fees and court costs can really add up quickly, and the stress of litigation can take a toll on your life and well-being. Your beneficiaries may also not have the resources required to fight for the land that rightfully belongs to them, causing them to forfeit land that has belonged to your family for generations. However, with the guidance of an experienced real estate and litigation attorney, you can resolve your boundary dispute through alternative methods such as mediation or arbitration.Boundary disputes are a common issue for property owners in Texas, but it doesn’t have to be a costly one. Taking action as soon as a dispute arises will help you regain some control over the situation. If you are currently engaged in a boundary dispute or would like guidance about a potential boundary dispute in a real estate transaction, call the firm of Albright & Lumpkin, PC at (713) 455-6661 for a consultation today.

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