Understanding The Legal Process

Three Things To Do Before Suing Your Neighbor For Encroaching On Your Property

by Eli Gregory

A property dispute with a neighbor can be an unsavory affair, but you can't just back down if you believe that he or she is enriching on your property. The good news is that real estate laws can help you get legal redress. However, you shouldn't rush into filing a lawsuit without taking these three actions first:

Arm Yourself with the Right Information

Arguing from a point of ignorance will only make the situation worse. Therefore, the first thing is to get the correct information on your respective properties. Use these three processes to get the information you need:

  • Property survey – This determines your property's boundary lines and creates a permanent record for it. It determines where your parcel of land starts and ends.
  • Property appraisal – This determines the current value of the disputed property. That way you get to know, in terms of dollars, how much is at stake.
  • Title search – This determines the legal owner of the property in question; the one whose name is on the title.

Talk With Your Neighbor

It's also advisable to talk to your neighbor and see if you can resolve the dispute amicably. This may be possible if the three processes above have clearly revealed who owns the disputed property. Who knows, you might just be lucky enough to realize that your dispute was based on a misunderstanding that you can resolve. For example, it may be that the previous owner of your property claimed to have granted an easement to your neighbor, but without following the right channels and rendering, the easement is nonbinding. You may also involve other parties, such as your local community organization, in trying to settle the dispute.

Consult an Attorney

Consulting an attorney isn't synonymous with instigating a lawsuit. It's just that a real estate lawyer is more likely to have a good understanding of your state's property laws than you or your neighbor. Therefore, take your concerns to the lawyer so that he or she can gauge whether your claims are valid. You don't have to mention this to your neighbor because the information may aggravate the situation.

Filing a lawsuit should be the last thing you do when you have a dispute with your neighbor. However, you may proceed with it if both you and your attorney are convinced that you are right, but your neighbor is still obstinate about his or her position. In such a case, your lawyer may instigate official communications with your neighbor (or his or her lawyer) before taking any further action.

For more information, contact Schulze Howard & Cox or a similar firm.