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Real Estate Encroachment Disputes

On Behalf of | May 30, 2014 | Real Estate Encroachment Disputes

Buffington Law Firm’s real estate litigation attorneys have dealt with numerous real estate encroachment disputes in recent years.  Real estate encroachment disputes usually occur between owners of adjoining property parcels when one owner begins treating part of their neighbor’s property as his or her own. Perhaps they fence in a portion of your property.  In other cases we have seen situations in which a neighbor constructed a road or driveway on neighboring property and started using it.  Such cases tend to be emotional and usually require legal expertise to resolve.

For example, in a recent real estate encroachment dispute that our Firm handled, for over thirty years a neighbor had maintained a wood fence that encompassed many square feet of our client’s property; mainly backyard and sideyard property.  Our clients were relatively new owners of the property and became curious as to why their parcel did not seem to have the same shape and dimensions as the tract map indicated.  Sure enough, an inexpensive visit by a surveyor showed that the neighbors had fenced in a substantial portion of our client’s property.  When gentle inquiries were made of the neighbors, they immediately “lawyered up,” filed a lawsuit for adverse possession and quiet title (to establish that they now owned the fenced-in property) and sought to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing our clients from disturbing the fence or reclaiming the property.

We were able to defeat the TRO, and in fact in this instance we were able to cause the entire lawsuit to become dismissed.  But this case illustrates an important principle: never allow a neighbor to start using your property in this manner.  Under certain circumstances this can give rise to a claim by the hostile neighbor of adverse possession — this is a lawsuit in which the Plaintiff claims that notwithstanding what the recorded deed to the property says, the Plaintiff nonetheless is entitled to a Court Judgment changing the deed such that the neighbor now owns the disputed property. 

Our real estate trial lawyers recommend that when you are faced with an encroachment issue of this type that you seek legal advice before taking any unilateral action.  Often and usually we are able to resolve such disputes in our client’s favor at a very economical cost; often without the need for a lawsuit.  If you have an encroachment issue, we recommend that you call us for a free legal consultation to discuss your situation and a course of action.