Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Practical Tips For Dealing With Boundary Disputes

by Hunter Moore

A boundary dispute can ruin your relationship with your neighbor. At the same time, you cannot just let your neighbor encroach on your property. Below are some of the steps you can take to resolve such a boundary dispute.

Understand Your Rights

The first step is to determine the rights you hold on the property. For example, a tenant does not have the same rights as a property owner. You can conduct your own research or consult a real estate lawyer for further understanding of your rights. For example, if an easement granted you the use of a property, then you should understand the limitations of the easement.

Confirm the Encroachment

Secondly, you need to confirm that an encroachment exists. The confirmation will help you avoid false accusations against your neighbor. Here are a few tips to help you get to the root of the matter:

  • Scrutinize existing real estate documents such as title and easement deeds
  • Talk to previous owners of the property
  • Talk to your homeowners' association
  • Talk to your landlord

Talk to everyone and take every measure possible to clear the air. Don't hesitate to apologize to your neighbor if your investigations reveal you are the one on the wrong. 

Gather Evidence

If your investigations reveal your neighbor's encroachment, then the next step is to arm yourself with relevant evidence. Get copies of all the relevant documents that prove your position. Title deeds, tax records, lease agreements, and purchase agreements are some of the documents you may present as evidence.  

Talk To Your Neighbor

Approach your neighbor once you have the necessary evidence. Present your complaint and evidence as calmly as possible. Hopefully, you will learn that the issue was just a misunderstanding that you can easily clear. Try to negotiate with your neighbor for an amicable resolution if it turns out the issue is more than a misunderstanding.


You may need the involvement of a third party to help talk with your neighbor. Try alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation or arbitration. A respectable mutual friend or lawyer can help you with the ADR. Note that ADR will only work if your neighbor is willing to go down the same route.

If you are lucky, your boundary dispute will be over without you having to try all the processes above. If you are unlucky, your attempts at an amicable resolution might fail. For the latter case, you still have an ace up your sleeve—consulting a real estate lawyer.

After following the above steps, contact a real estate law firm near you for further guidance. 


About Me

Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

If you've recently moved into a new house and your neighbors are claiming you've infringed on their property line with your new fence, you may not know what to do. Sure, the idea of contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but if your neighbors are insistent that you're on their property and you can't prove otherwise, an attorney may be the best choice. I created this site to help people just like you understand the laws surrounding property boundaries, real estate claims, and similar issues. I hope that the information here will give you some clarity as to whether or not you need to consult an attorney to protect your interests.