You arrive home from vacation and see that your next-door neighbor has put up a shed that is partially on your lawn. Or maybe you have decided to sell your home and a survey shows that your fence encroaches on the property next-door. What can you do to resolve this dispute?
If you find yourself in a situation where your neighbor has built a structure that encroaches on your property, there are steps you can take to resolve the dispute. Here are some possible actions you can take:
In this article, Associate Attorney Sean P. Griffin shares some steps that can be taken when faced with a residential property encroachment.
Get a survey done: If you find yourself facing a potential property encroachment dispute, it is crucial that you first determine the exact boundaries of your property. This will help you understand the extent of the encroachment, what steps you can take to resolve the issue, and might even reveal that there is no encroachment at all.
Talk to your neighbor: The first step is to have a conversation with your neighbor and explain the situation. They may not be aware that they have encroached on your property and may be willing to move the structure. If moving the encroaching property is not feasible or if you or your neighbors do not want to move the encroaching property, you could offer to buy the property from your neighbor. This will require a survey to confirm where the land is. An outright purchase may be disfavored because of factors including zoning setbacks or plat restrictions, so it is important to verify that your purchase or sale of property will not leave either lot non-conforming.
Notify your local planning or zoning administrator: If your neighbor has placed an encroachment on your land and is unwilling to move the structure or if you are unable to reach an agreement, you can contact your local planning or zoning administrator. They will investigate the matter and may take action to enforce the zoning ordinance which could alleviate the encroachment.
Seek legal advice: If the dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, you may need to seek legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and the legal options available to you. He or she may also be able to advise on whether your title insurance company may be responsible for any litigation.
It’s important to remember that disputes with neighbors can be stressful and emotionally charged. It’s always best to try to resolve the issue amicably and avoid escalating the situation. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement, it’s important to seek an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. Feel free to reach out to the legal professionals at West & Dunn online through our Contact Us page or by telephone at (608) 535-6420 for a free consultation.