Try These Options Before Suing For Encroachment

If your neighbor is enriching on your property, you can get back your property rights by taking legal action. However, there are a few options you can and should try first before suing your neighbor; here are three examples of such options:

Confirm the Encroachment First

Few things are as bad as false accusations, so you need to confirm that your neighbor is actually encroaching on your property before making the accusations. Otherwise, you may not only damage your neighborly relationship, but you will also waste resources chasing a lost cause.

To confirm the encroachment, you need to know your property's boundaries and confirm that the neighbor in question has actually constructed something on your side of the fence. Here are some of the options for checking your property's boundaries:

  • Check your local accessor's website for mapping tools; some local jurisdictions have online maps you can use for the purpose.
  • Make a physical visit to the recorders or assessor's office
  • Check your title deed.
  • If you can't get the confirmation via the above methods or if multiple sources contradict each other, you will have to commission a property survey.

Once you have confirmed the size of your property, you also need to confirm that there is no easement that has granted your neighbor the right to use a section of your land. This should also be in your deed or you can contact the organization responsible for zoning or mapping laws in your neighborhood.

Talk with Your Neighbor

Once you have confirmed that your neighbor is actually encroaching on your property, approach them first before taking legal action against them. It might just be a mistake, for example, your neighbor might have misread the map or they may be holding false beliefs about the size of their property. It might even be that they believe an easement exists where one doesn't.

Whatever the cause of the encroachment, sit down with your neighbor and see if you can come to an understanding. You can even involve a real estate lawyer to mediate your negotiations. Make sure that any agreement you come to is legally binding to avoid future complications.

Offer to Sell or Rent Out the Section to Your Neighbor

You can also offer to sell the piece of land to your neighbor to keep the peace. Of course, this only applies if it's just a small piece and you don't really need the piece your neighbor has encroached upon; you don't have to sell your property just to please your neighbor. In fact, if you are not using that section of your land, you can also allow your neighbor to lease it from you.

If all fails, however, you have the right to seek legal redress for the easement. Consult a property lawyer like John M. Ogden to help you with the case; real estate laws tend to be rather complicated.