History shows us that geography and political decree have created distinct national entities across the world. Unfortunately, contested borders may lead to battles or even war.
Property owners can take steps to prevent boundary disputes on their land, including commissioning a survey prior to purchasing and communicating with neighbors and using alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and negotiation as ways out.
Identifying the Dispute
Boundaries serve various functions, from delineating property lines and separating entities to restricting people or things’ movement. But boundaries can also create conflict and tension among neighboring landowners – sometimes leading even to war! In extreme cases, territorial disputes could even escalate into military conflict.
One of the primary sources of boundary disputes involves fencing, buildings, walls or landscaping features that encroach onto adjacent properties. If this happens, it’s essential to ascertain its full extent as well as whether permission was given or denied before taking action against this intrusion on neighboring properties.
To do this, it is necessary to enlist the aid of experts such as a surveyor and appraisal expert. With these documents in hand, an experienced real estate lawyer who specializes in boundary disputes may be able to settle your issues before going to court, leading either to a financial settlement, agreement to split property ownership, or easement agreements.
Mediation and Negotiation
Boundary disputes between neighbors can be complex and emotionally charged affairs that require costly court battles for resolution. To avoid them altogether, work closely with your neighbors as early as possible in good faith to create solutions together.
At mediation, disputants meet with an impartial third-party neutral to explore issues and possible resolution strategies. The neutral is responsible for facilitating these discussions to ensure both parties can speak openly while listening to each other’s points of view, helping reduce posturing over the strength of each argument in early stages of disputes and permitting parties to explore options not available earlier on in private discussions.
Mediation provides both sides with new insights into each other’s perspectives and what settlement proposals might be offered by each side if necessary to reach an amicable resolution of their dispute. This valuable knowledge may prove helpful later if court hearings become necessary in reaching a resolution of their respective claims.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If a dispute cannot be settled through new surveys, appraisals, title work or negotiations between property owners themselves, then it may be necessary to bring in an external arbitrator as the last resort. Unfortunately, this option usually has the highest cost and time cost implications.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to any process or technique that enables parties to resolve disagreements without going to court. Negotiation and mediation are two popular ADR methods. Mediators can act either as facilitators who engage in shuttle diplomacy while remaining neutral themselves or be more involved by offering knowledge and opinions to help find solutions which meet both parties’ needs.
Situations may arise where none of the above methods will suffice to resolve a dispute; when this is the case, working with an experienced legal professional to provide personalized guidance throughout the litigation process and build a case to protect you from your neighbors’ encroachment can help ensure its resolution.
While it’s often better to resolve property disputes without court involvement, sometimes boundary cases must go to trial. Although litigation can be time consuming and expensive, it also provides a structured process for resolving complex issues and obtaining legal remedies.
Plaintiffs file lawsuits detailing the nature of their dispute and seeking relief. In response, defendants either admit or deny allegations made in the petition. Courts may appoint expert witnesses such as surveyors to provide testimony on where property boundaries lie.
Landowners can protect themselves by taking proactive measures to avoid boundary disputes. Conducting surveys, reviewing deeds and title documents, communicating with neighbors, installing boundary markers, purchasing title insurance and consulting an experienced attorney are all effective preventive strategies. An experienced lawyer will ensure your rights and interests are represented properly during mediation, negotiations or litigation processes as needed; furthermore, they can also help your case to be ready for trial quickly in an effort to maximize chances of success and enhance chances of victory.