Individual land ownership is at the heart of a free economy. However, it's not always easy to figure out where property lines lie. Even the most advanced surveying equipment or detailed parcel descriptions can leave room for doubt. These gray areas sometimes lead to bitter disputes between neighbors.
Many of us have been there: You've built a garage, shed or deck, only to be faced with a neighbor's contention that the structure juts into their property. Or perhaps you're on the other side and your neighbor has encroached onto your property. There are countless potential sources of conflict between neighbors: Fences, trees, driveways, pools, even gardens, to name a few.
In these situations, it's important to protect your rights by making smart decisions. Here are a few tips on what not to do:
- Don't become hostile. Unless you're planning to move, you'll still have to live next door to your neighbor for a long time. An ongoing feud can make it difficult to enjoy your own property. Fortunately, there are ways to enforce your rights without making it personal.
- Don't say or do things you'll later regret. Remember that your words and behaviors could be used as ammunition against you in a lawsuit. It's best not to escalate an already tense situation.
- Don't get in over your head. If you've tried to resolve the disagreement informally but your neighbor won't budge, it's probably time to involve a lawyer. The right attorney can analyze where you stand and advise you on your options for moving forward.
Nobody wants to deal with the hassle and stress of a boundary dispute. By following these suggestions, you can at least avoid making a difficult situation worse.