Association News

Property-line Disputes Best Settled Through Talking

June 21, 2007
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

Notwithstanding the invention of Global Positioning System technology and other improvements in land surveying, property-line disputes are a common phenomenon, regularly helping lawyers upgrade their lifestyle.

These disputes happen when adjacent landowners come to differing conclusions about where their common property line lies. Usually, that happens because someone made a mistake in locating the line and built a fence or other structure on the wrong side.

But disputes can also arise from a bona fide disagreement as to where the line is properly placed. This can happen if there is an ambiguity in a legal description contained in a deed, or if surveyors disagree on the location of monuments that are to be used in placing the line. Land surveying is still part science and part art.

Property-line disputes are further complicated by the concept of adverse possession. To oversimplify a bit, here in Colorado, if a trespass onto another person’s property continues openly for a period of 18 years, a statute of limitations expires and the person who owned the land subject to the trespass can no longer sue to stop the trespass. As a consequence, ownership of the land passes to the trespassing party.

So what should you do if you find yourself involved in a property-line dispute? Well, the first logical step is to hire a surveyor to accurately locate the line, or at least explain (in terms a nonsurveyor can understand) why there might be alternate locations for the line.

Then, even if you prefer a military action as your next step, you should contact your neighbor, share the results of your surveyor’s work and propose a solution to the problem.

The solution could be an agreement to move an incorrectly located fence or structure, or the granting of an easement that would allow the encroachment to remain in place, or a sale of property that would change the location of the common boundary line and thereby eliminate the trespass.

If you and your neighbor can agree on a solution that requires documentation, you should get a lawyer involved to be sure the job is done properly. Otherwise, you may be planting the seeds for another dispute.

If your neighbor’s response to your efforts at diplomacy involves threats of legal action, you will definitely want a lawyer on your team to help you decide what to do next. If a lawsuit must be filed, there are several strategies to consider.

For example, a claim could be brought against your neighbor for trespass, asking the judge to order the neighbor to remove encroaching items and award damages.

Colorado also has a 100-year-old statute that sets up a court-supervised method for determining a disputed property line. If there are ambiguous legal descriptions involved or claims of adverse possession, a proceeding called a “quiet title action” might be the best path to follow.

In a quiet title action, the plaintiff asks the court to enter a decree stating the plaintiff is the owner of the disputed property.

Any judicial resolution of a property-line dispute is going to be expensive, with neither side having a claim against the other for attorneys fees. For that reason, both parties should realize they have a common enemy - the legal profession - and do everything in their power to reach a negotiated solution.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, June 20, 2007.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to POB

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.

POB

POB July 2014

2014 July

In the July 2014 issue, POB explores the growth of photovoltaic (PV) installations in the United States across residential, commercial and utilities markets. Also, read how an innovative system ensures the vertical alignment of Gerald Desmond Bridge.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Drones

How long until drones will be commonly used in business?
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +