Having an amicable relationship with one's neighbors is the usual objective, but sometimes, that lofty goal is sidetracked when property lines are disputed. Property line issues can arise for various reasons. There may be a dispute over the placement of a fence or a garden. Conflict can also occur if a tree falls at the property line and there is disagreement as to whose responsibility it is. Here's what you need to know to avoid this situation.
Know Where Your Property Lines Are And Enforce Them
Anytime you see your neighbor encroaching closer to the boundary line, you'll want to double-check he is indeed within his rights. If you ignore it and your neighbor is allowed unfettered access to your land, you very well may lose that portion due to a legal process referred to as adverse possession. This basically means that if someone is occupying the land and believes they have a legal right to it, they may be awarded the continued use of it.
If you want to be a nice neighbor and allow your adjoining neighbor to use part of your land, for instance if you have a better gardening site than they do, it is imperative you put in writing your permission and their acknowledgement. It may not even be your immediate neighbor. Maybe a local farmer propositioned you for use of one of your fields. Don't just give him verbal permission to grow his crops on your land; legally spell out the details in writing.
Have Your Property Lines Legally Defined
While you should be able to clearly determine your property lines from your land deed, mistakes can occur, especially if it hasn't been surveyed in a long time. If you are still on speaking terms with your neighbor, you can compare deeds to determine if that's where the issue lies. It may just be a simple error.
Regardless of the reason for the dispute, a professional land surveyor should be hired. A land surveyor is a neutral party who will research property descriptions, investigate land deeds, and then physically marks the borders and corners in accordance with all applicable laws. This is the only way to legally define the boundaries. If your situation escalates to the court system, a professional land survey will be court ordered to decide the case, so you may as well avoid the additional legal expenses and just have the survey done on your own. Once the land surveyor has marked your property, you shouldn't have any more issues with your neighbor, but if you do, you will need to consult a real estate attorney.