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A Neighbor Has Started A Boundary Dispute. Now What?

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Boundaries are among the more potentially contentious issues in real estate law. Folks who make use of land and live closely can end up in disputes over property lines, road access, and even resources. Resolving these disputes often boils down to showing where the line is between two properties. That's not always as simple as it sounds, though, so let's take a look at what a lawyer can do about it.


Almost every attorney on Earth would likely prefer that both parties try to talk things through. A solution might be arrived at by offering money or an easement, for example.

Even if you feel the neighbor is unlikely to discuss anything in good faith, offering to hash things out will help you down the road. In the worst scenario, you might end up in court over the dispute. Judges prefer to see evidence that parties mad good-faith efforts to resolve disputes out of court before using the court's time. By proving you've exhausted the less drastic options, you'll be further ahead in getting your case heard if necessary.

County Register

Each county in America maintains a register of the properties contained within its borders. The county register includes data relating to features on the properties. Similarly, every survey that's conducted should be entered into the register. Particularly in regions that have been settled for centuries, this provides a lot of information about where a property is and what its limits are.

You may also discover small oddities. For example, a section of the property might have been carved off by a previous owner and sold to a neighbor. The register will contain data about water, gas, and mineral rights, too.

New Surveys

With the data in hand from the county register, you can commission a new survey. A professional will visit the property, put down stakes, and take measurements. They'll establish what the current state of the property is and how much it has changed since the last survey.

Documenting Current Use

One of the chancier arguments for claiming part of the property is adverse possession. Essentially, the side that violates the boundary admits it is in violation, but they claim they've been using the section of the property for so long that it's fundamentally theirs. Showing that you are currently using the section and object to the other party's use is key to refuting such claims.

To learn more, contact a real estate attorney.