Owning a property is a cherished dream for many people. However, this dream can turn sour if an owner gets mired in property line dispute with a neighbor. There can be many reasons for such a dispute ranging from confusion to disagreement about the boundary separating the two assets. Property owners must resolve these issues quickly as they can easily grow into serious problems which have the potential to affect their asset’s valuation. However, they must also remember that they will have to live alongside their neighbor for some time to come. It will be wise, therefore to explore all options for ending the dispute before settling for the legal route. Let’s take a look at the steps that can be taken to resolve a boundary dispute before filing a legal case through a real estate dispute lawyer.
1. Conduct A Title Search
The first step for an owner must be to conduct a full title search of their property. It will be incorrect to assume that you are right unless and until your belief is backed by legal proof. Even though you are convinced about the legality of your position, check all the ownership documents of your asset to verify the facts. Visit the local civic authority which is responsible for registering and issuing title deeds and ascertain whether the demarcation details between the two assets are the same as those mentioned in your documents. It will also be pertinent to check whether other factors like easements affect either of the properties on either side of the boundary line in question or not.
2. Hire A Professional To Survey The Property
You must engage a professional to survey your property. A surveyor uses the legal ownership document to locate the dividing line and marks it physically on the ground. These professionals charge fees for their service which depends on the location and dimensions of the asset. Surveying the property will also help in making an estimation of your assets present market value. You must ensure that the surveyor you choose possesses a valid work license and has significant experience. It will also be pertinent to inform the neighbor that you have hired a professional to verify the property line.
3. Consult A Real Estate Attorney
The next step is to contact a lawyer who specializes in real estate issues. This does not mean that you are preparing to sue the other party. Consulting a legal professional will help you get a practical view of your position and the possible routes that can be taken to settle the issue. It may very well be the case that you are in the wrong. Discussing the issue with an attorney will help you realize your mistake and save you from legal trouble and potential penal action.
4. Meet With The Other Party
This is the most important step of resolving a property line dispute and if everything goes well, you may not need to use the last step of this guide. Inform your neighbor about your findings through a letter and schedule a meeting. Show the legal documents and the surveyor’s report to the other party and also use the opportunity to hear their point of view. In most cases, both sides will reach some sort of an agreement at this stage. However, if the dispute is complex, then the parties will require some more time to explore the issue. Fix a time period for the purpose and agree to meet after its completion.
5. Explore Options For Settling The Matter
Once both sides have conducted thorough research of the matter, they can meet again to explore all options for settling the matter. Many people will be prepared to compromise on reasonable terms in this phase and suggest ways to reach an agreement. If a party was encroaching on other side’s land, it may offer to pay for the inconvenience. In case, the issue was about no clear physical boundary between the assets, both sides may agree to put up a fence and jointly bear the cost.
6. Create A Legal Agreement
Once an agreement has been reached with the other side, it will be sensible to create a legal document. This paper must contain all the terms agreed upon by both sides. It must include the details of any exchange of money taking place between the disputing parties. The amount, its mode of payment along with the date and time of payment must be mentioned in the agreement. In case, both parties agreed to alter the partitioning line, then the corresponding changes must be made in the title deeds of both the assets. The motive behind framing a legal agreement is to eliminate the chances of any such issue arising in the future.
7. Engage A Mediator
What happens if you do not reach an agreement with your neighbor? A good idea will be to engage a mediator who will try to thrash out a settlement. Mediation services are run by governments, local civic authorities, as well as professional legal firms who train their attorneys for the purpose. It is extremely important that both sides agree on the choice of the mediator. Prepare a written brief of your case and gather all important documents before a mediation proceeding. A professional mediator asks both parties to present their version of the issue before he/she makes a suggestion. If an agreement is reached after the mediation, then it will be written by the mediator. In most jurisdictions, once both parties sign the paper, it becomes a legally-binding agreement.
8. Approach A Court Of Law
In case, even mediation fails to resolve the issue, then the legal route is the only option left. Find a local lawyer with expertise in property disputes. For instance, if you are in India, look for real estate lawyers who know about applicable laws and local court procedures. File a lawsuit in a court of law but remember that this is a time-consuming and costly option.
A property line dispute must be resolved quickly as it can cause immense mental stress and also adversely affect the valuation of an asset. It will be pertinent to contact an expert real estate dispute lawyer to get thorough assistance on settling the issue.