Conflicting property boundaries can be a major source of stress for Texas property owners. Sometimes deed descriptions are incorrect, and the neighbors aren’t sure where the legal boundary actually is. Other times, the description is correct, but a neighbor has been encroaching on the land so long that it has legally become theirs.
No one wants to lose out on the property they bought and paid for, or start a land war with their neighbors over three feet of space on the north side of their yard. Handling property boundary issues can be complicated, so it’s important to proceed with the law and the facts on your side. Here’s what to do when you have a boundary dispute.
Determining where your property boundaries lie
First, you need to determine the following:
- Who is encroaching on whose property?
- How long has the encroachment been happening?
- Was permission ever given for the encroachment?
- Exactly how much land is being encroached upon?
The best way to do this is to have a land survey, appraisal and title search performed, if you didn’t have these done when you purchased the property. If your neighbors aren’t amenable to settling, however, you’ll probably need them redone before you go to court.
It’s also smart to talk to an attorney about your claim. You might find that you don’t have a claim, or that it’s not worth the extra time and expense to dispute the boundaries.
Opening discussions and writing a demand letter
If you do have a claim, or the amount of land isn’t particularly large, sometimes it’s best just to initiate a discussion with your neighbor. Call, email or visit with your neighbor to let them know that you think there has been an error, and ask if there’s a way to come to an understanding. There’s no reason to mention your attorney unless the dispute can’t be resolved otherwise.
If you do need to involve attorneys, and you have a legal claim, your attorney can write a demand letter. This will describe the issue, the evidence on your side and a desire to settle out of court. This is usually the most reasonable way to begin the legal process, and may save you the cost of going to court.
Settling in or out of court
If you can settle out of court, so much the better—but sometimes conflicts over property boundaries in Texas get heated. Your best bet will be filing an action for quiet title, which asks the court to weigh in on the boundaries of the property and who owns what. A wise attorney will still go through litigation in the hopes of settling—and you should, too, as litigation costs can quickly add up. You may be required to attend mediation to see if there are any reasonable solutions to be had.
However you choose to settle your dispute, make sure you get an accurate land survey from D.G. Smyth & Co., Inc. Call us today to learn more about how we can help settle your boundary dispute