Imagine buying a piece of property and starting renovations. Things are going well until your neighbor serves with you with a cease-and-desist order. Apparently, your renovations have spilled over onto his property. However, according to the survey you had performed prior to the purchase, you are well within the boundaries of your property.
Property disputes can often turn into nasty court battles. Before you find yourself in the middle of a legal battle without any support, contact a local Gig Harbor real estate attorney for help with your case. Read further for some tips to help you resolve your property dispute.
The power of the survey
The property survey you had conducted when you purchased the property should display definitive boundary lines. However, before making changes along th e perceived property lines, you should always have an updated survey done. This will help you determine more exact property lines.
However, the age of the property or the specifics of the deed might keep you from getting an accurate survey. For example, if the deed describes the boundary as being 30 feet from the road when it was originally written 40 years ago, it may no longer be accurate. This could be due to possible changes in the width of the road. Perhaps the boundary starts 20 feet from the road now.
Determination by a judge
If the survey does help you solve the problem with your neighbor, you can ask a judge to provide a ruling on the boundary lines. You can accomplish this by filing a quiet title lawsuit. This can be expensive compared to other resolution methods.
Coming to an agreement
You and your neighbor can reach an agreement yourselves without a court ruling or a survey. Usually, when this happens, the property owners pick a fixed object, such as a pre-existing fence, to act as the designated property line. In order to make this legal, each of you must sign a quitclaim deed that details your agreement.
The doctrine of adverse possession
If your neighbor is renting the property next door, and has been for several years, the doctrine of adverse possession might affect your situation. This means that your dispute is with the renter rather than the actual owner. However, in order to pursue action against you, there are special circumstances that must come into play. For example, the court might require the renter to also pay the property taxes on the land in order to claim the right to pursue a claim. In addition, if you and the renter have already reached a prior agreement regarding the use of the property near the perceived line, he has already foregone his right to a claim.
If you are experiencing a property line dispute, it is important to understand your legal rights and options in Washington.