Neighbor Wars - Boundary Disputes

Fence in farm field There’s a saying in real property “good fences make good neighbors.” Having a good relationship goes a long way towards a happy and enjoyable experience with your home. On the other side, having a conflict with your neighbor can turn your peaceful abode into a nightmare. Boundary line disputes are conflicts that can and should be avoided if the parties have a full knowledge of the true facts. Part I of Avoiding Neighbor Wars will discuss steps in how to understand and resolve a boundary line dispute between you and your neighbor.

Love or Loathe Thy Neighbor?

Boundary disputes often arise from confusion or uncertainty about where the actual property line exists or they may arise from a true disagreement of ownership. Both parties are usually not sure where the precise boundary line exists and will use fences or other tangible markers to frame the dispute. Often times, fences or other natural land markers are not actually on the boundary line. Thankfully, when such a situation arises, there are a number of solutions to resolving the dispute without going to court.

At its essence, resolving a dispute with your neighbor is usually no more complicated than applying the words of Jesus to your dispute: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do for others what you want them to do for you.”  It goes without saying that cooperation and a bit of diplomacy can go a long way.  However, once that approach is exhausted, consider taking these steps to prevent you from ending up in court.

Do Your Homework!

One of the first steps is to review your deed to your property. Your deed is the document evidencing ownership of your property and has a legal description of your property. While often the language is confusing and archaic, this exact wording of the deed will tell you where the property lines are. Consider getting a copy of the parcel map if one has been recorded for your subdivision, which can be obtained from your local county recorder’s office.

If you are not able to get to the bottom of where the boundary line is, you will need to hire a surveyor to establish the line. This is an expensive endeavor but will provide the parties with the precise location of the property line. Try to get your neighbor to agree to have the survey done so that you can share the cost.

Agree to Mediate Your Dispute

Once the boundary line is established, through whatever method, one party is likely to be unhappy with the result. After all, they just learned that they have less property than they previously thought. In addition, your neighbor may also have to move their belongings which have encroached over your property line. This is not an enjoyable experience for anyone.

Thus, often at this point emotion gets the best of people and results in litigation. Before that happens, the parties should consult an attorney and consider mediating their disputes. Mediation can be done quickly and saves everyone time and expense in resolving their dispute.  For example, even if it is discovered that one party is encroaching on another party’s property, there are techniques that can be used other than just requiring the relocation of the encroachment, that will prevent the encroachment from ripening into a permanent right of the party who is encroaching.

Talk With Your Real Estate Attorney

Often times it makes sense to talk with your real estate attorney before trying to do any of the above remedies, as we can help you wade through the complicated nature of real estate. As longtime Modesto Real Estate Attorneys, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you resolve the dispute in the best manner possible. Visit for more information or call an attorney at Ogden Law Firm, PC at (209) 524-4466 to schedule a meeting. We look forward to hearing from you.