Most people try to be good neighbors and tend to ignore small issues that may arise every now and then. However, some people, intentionally or unintentionally, breach into their neighbor’s property line by constructing a structure, like a home extension or a fence, which results in a property dispute. While there are ways to resolve this problem, for example getting a land survey, people tend to take the issue to court to determine who actually owns the part of the property.
Defining Property Lines and Boundaries
Essentially, the lines on the tax map of a country are known as property lines that set apart different patches of land. Property lines can be easily spotted in condominium units, where these are quite apparent at the start and end of an apartment unit. However, boundaries are somewhat complicated to determine in single-family homes in residential, rural, or suburban settings. Natural boundaries, such as roads or ponds, make establishing lines easy, but it becomes difficult to do so when the boundary between two properties drawn through a field or lawn. In such situations, accurately determining where one property ends and the other starts is difficult, which sometimes results in disputes among neighbors.
Legal Issues Involving Fences
A majority of fence related issues are about the appearance, location, and height of the fence, and whether a homeowner has breached the legal property lines of an adjoining property owner. In terms of height, fences over six feet are restricted as per local residential and planned development guidelines, while the front yard fences should not be more than four feet. Some zoning laws deal with the appearance of different kinds of fence construction, which may influence the legal property rights in a property dispute between neighbors.
Property Improvements Causing Boundary Disputes
In a very few cases, property disputes start over random arguments between neighbors over boundaries. Often times, when a property owner is making changes or improvements give rise to boundary line issues, for example, building a wall or erecting a new fence. The dispute may lead to a lawsuit if the neighbor:
- Crosses a property line during construction of an improvement
- Does not acquire the required approval from authorized source, such as a town or city planning commission or homeowner’s association.
- Does not acquire building permits before starting installations or work
- The improvement violates a local ordinance, such as the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), zoning restriction, or a state law
- Hinders an adjoining property owner in using their property in the similar way, such as by blocking a driveway or pathway.
- The improvement violates a restrictive covenant
People can avoid many disputes when carrying out an improvement project by talking to their neighbor first and getting their consent. This is especially effective in cases when a wall or fence is being constructed between the properties on the boundary line.
Dealing with property disputes can be daunting and can create a lot of problems between neighbors. It is essential that you talk to an experienced real estate attorney to evaluate your options and take the best possible action. Contact Casement Group, P.C. today at (847) 888-9300 for a free consultation with an experienced and reliable attorney.