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Disputes with neighbors can range widely, from loud parties, to poor upkeep, to boundary encroachments. If you are like most property owners, you take great pride in your land, and you do not want anyone to use property that is rightfully yours. When neighbors start taking down shrubs, planting trees, or putting up fences on your property, that is exactly what they are doing—using your real estate. What can you do to deal with these issues?

Know Your Property Lines

Many people generally understand where their property reaches, but they may not know precisely where the property line is located. In many situations, merely pointing out where you think your property lines lie can halt encroachments in their tracks. In other circumstances, it may be a good idea to call in a professional.

You can get a formal land survey done that indicates exactly where your property ends and where your neighbor’s land begins. Having this information can be extremely valuable in dealing with any boundary issues. You may learn that you have misunderstood where your property line is located, or that your neighbor was mistaken about where your property begins.

Land surveys do cost money, but some neighbors will agree to split the costs. In other situations, it may be worth the expense to avoid litigation down the road.

Common Property-Related Problems

Many property-related disputes have similar causes. These may include:

  • Debris or damage from trees or other plants. In most situations, plant debris such as leaves or seeds are natural occurrences. As a property owner, you are responsible for dealing with this waste, even if you do not own the tree or another plant. However, if a tree causes damage by, for example, falling on your house, then the tree owner is responsible for that type of damage. You can carefully trim the branches of a tree that is rooted in your neighbor’s yard but that overhang into your yard, but you may not kill or damage the tree in the process.
  • Dogs and other pets. Pets can wander onto your property if they are not restrained or appropriately contained. They may soil in your yard or dig up your flowers. While these activities are generally just a nuisance, wandering animals can be dangerous in some situations. As a rule, a pet owner is responsible for any damage that their furry fiend causes, especially if the pet crosses into a neighbor’s yard.
  • Trespassing neighbors. Some neighbors have very little respect for your property. If they are coming on to your land without your permission, they are trespassing. Talk to them about this issue. If it cannot be resolved, then you can begin legal proceedings to keep them off your land. In fact, trespassing is often a criminal offense!

Dealing with Neighbor Disputes

It is almost always a good idea to talk to your neighbor about any problems you are having first. Many people can work things out informally. If your neighbor is unreasonable or you cannot come to an agreement, you likely have other options. For example, you may be able to sell a portion of your property to the neighbor who is encroaching. If you simply want the land back, starting a civil suit may be a good option as well. If you are having difficulty with your neighbor over your property lines, a real estate attorney at Schneiders & Associates can certainly provide with you advice and guidance.

By: Ted Schneider, Esq.