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How to Handle a Boundary Dispute During Home Improvements

Gone are the days where new neighbours were welcomed with home baked pies and warm welcomes (in most places anyway) and in fact many people don’t even know their neighbour’s names never mind have an actual friendship with them.

However, having a good relationship with your neighbour can actually be hugely beneficial, and not just as a social aspect. Being able to talk to and communicate with them in a respectful and friendly manner could be essential in the case of any disputes arising between the two properties, which often happens.

One of the most common disputes that arises between neighbours is that of boundary and property disputes, where one property encroaches on the divide between the two. So how exactly can we define a property line or boundary?

Boundary or property lines are sections that have been demarcated to mark out the ground of a single property. This is easier when it comes to apartments and such but gets more complicated with houses or in rural areas, where it is often simply an invisible line that both neighbours are meant to respect.

What are the common causes of a boundary dispute?

Boundary disputes often arrive out of a breach of ethics of one neighbour when renovating or building onto their property. While they can often be sorted out through communication, when the offending neighbour does the following things, they tend to lead themselves up to a lawsuit:

  • Clearly crosses the boundary line with a new construction
  • Building permits have not been obtained
  • Violates state, county or homeowners’ association protocol
  • Constructs a structure that impedes a pathway, driveway or garage.

What should the first steps in a dispute be?

If you find that your neighbour is contravening the boundary line between your two properties, then there are a couple of things you can do about it. First things first, you should have a discussion with your neighbour to try resolve the issue, however, if you two have different understandings of where the demarcated boundary is located, then you should make an appointment to get together with all the correct documentation in order to properly establish the property lines.

If your title deeds and other documents aren’t clear enough and you can’t sort out the dispute then you will have to take the next step and contact a good boundary dispute solicitor to assist you.

Hiring a boundary dispute solicitor

You may find that a good boundary dispute solicitor will be able to help you sort out your dispute before going to court. They should be able to point out where lines begin and end – making it more clear for your neighbour. However, sometimes it may escalate and you will have to take it to court, although this should be the very last resort.

Your first point of call should be trying to get your neighbour to remove whatever structure it is that they have put up. However, if this is not possible or if you feel the structure has diminished the price of your property then you can sue your neighbour for monetary compensation.

Remember that “good fences make good neighbours” as Robert Frost points out, and should this fence get breached then you should always try resolve it the reasonable way first.