It is a frequent problem for homeowners when they buy a residence and consider that their neighbor is changing the boundaries of their land, thus encroaching on their property. Faced with this situation, what actions should you take?
Steps to follow
The first thing to do is, strike up a conversation with your neighbor immediately after noticing the invasion. The longer you wait to raise the issue, the more difficult it will be to rectify the matter, either formally or informally. When talking to your neighbor, it is important to listen to his position. This does not necessarily mean acknowledging your neighbor’s position as correct, but it does mean listening respectfully.
The next step is to take pictures of the invaded area. It is important to use discretion when doing this. It is not necessary to approach the person at close range in an effort to create some kind of confrontation. It is enough if you can take the photo from your residence and then go to the activity location and take separate photos as needed.
Then check your county rig records. In all states, counties maintain deck maps that delineate current ownership of each area in the county. This means that the county will typically maintain these maps for individual tracts of land, including yours.
Property limits on plates are indicated by bearing and distance (such as N 47 00 00 W). Consulting the county platform records can help you confirm or deny your belief that the disputed area is actually part of your property. If you do not know how to interpret plates and distance and heading designations, you may need to enlist the services of a surveyor to properly interpret the platform.
Build a boundary fence
If the dispute threatens a vital interest to your family or your business, you might consider building a fence that delineates that demarcation that you believe constitutes the legal boundary between the two properties. Without This may be the correct procedure if you are looking to avoid an invasion by your neighbor that you think is crossing your property, and which could have far-reaching repercussions.
Conduct an investigation
By consulting the county platform records or your own records of your purchase of the property in question, you may find that the last property report was made using outdated descriptions that can no longer be used to determine the actual property boundary. . The costs for this can vary, but it is worth considering.
Contact a private mediator
Mediators are available for hire through private associations in many cities, although many counties in many states offer lists of legal advisers who will mediate disputes at a reduced cost. You can contact your local county civil court clerk to ask if your county maintains such a program.
Submit a written cease and desist document
If you contact legal counsel about the situation, a course of action that they may propose is to send a cease and desist letter to your neighbor requested in writing, and with the appropriate content, that your neighbor cease and desist from the activity that invades your property. The drafting of a cease and desist letter by legal counsel is of strategic value if the encroachment threatens to disrupt your peaceful enjoyment of your property, or materially reduce the value of your property.
Start a silent title lawsuit
A reserved title lawsuit seeks a statement by which you communicate that the land in question belongs to you and therefore “mutes” any competing title claims to the property. If your neighbor has been occupying part of your property, the action may take the form of an “eviction”, whereby you seek to regain possession of the property in question.
File a nuisance lawsuit
One remaining legal option is to sue your neighbor for inconvenience. The core element of a nuisance tort action is a defendant’s interference with a person’s enjoyment and use of their land.
Cause of action is flexible and can include various types of activities ranging from vibrations damaging a house; contamination of soil, a groundwater supply, or emission of unpleasant odors, smoke, dust, noxious gases, loud noises, high temperatures, or excessive light.