Maybe you have a commercial property that you have not fully developed, and a neighbor has recently started a business at an adjacent building. They put up a fence, and you can’t help but notice that it is over the boundary line. You might also have a residential property, either your own or one that you rent out to others, where a neighbor has crossed the boundary line while putting up a fence.
Given that the fence doesn’t really affect how you use the property, you might ignore it so that you don’t end up creating some kind of conflict with your neighbor. Unfortunately, that live-and-let-live approach to someone encroaching on your property’s boundary might eventually affect the boundary line itself and therefore the value of your property.
The other party could bring an adverse possession claim
Adverse possession is the legal term for what happens when someone other than the current owner of a property uses the land or property improvements unencumbered for years. They can file a claim in civil court asking to update ownership records because they have maintained and utilized that property.
To prevent a boundary encroachment issue from resulting in a change to your property line, you will need to enforce your rights as soon as you realize that the other party has made use of your land. In fact, there is a statute of limitations for such enforcement efforts. You have to initiate civil action within two years of discovering the encroachment on your property. Failing to do so might mean that after a few more years, the person making use of your property can claim ownership of it as well.
Good fences don’t always make good neighbors
The unfortunate truth is that a neighbor who violates your property boundaries may not think anything of later depriving you of that land either. When someone installs a fence without first consulting with their neighbors, especially if they install it in the wrong location, they may have to absorb the cost of removing the fence entirely or at least moving it to the correct side of the property line.
You may need the help of the courts, your own lawyer and possibly real estate professionals like surveyors to fight back against encroachment that could lead to the loss of your ownership rights later. Learning more about real estate disputes can help you navigate a challenging situation with your neighbor more effectively.