Neighbor Encroaching On Your Land? Why You Shouldn't Ignore It

Do you think that a neighbor has encroached on your yard's property? This can subtly happen over time as boundaries become forgotten and owners shift. It's often not a large invasion but rather something simple like a misplaced fence or a shed built partially over the line. But should you do anything about this relatively minor infraction if you spot it? The answer is yes, and here is a guide to how and why.

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Encroachment

The basic answer to why you should tackle the problem is that ignoring it will make it worse. The longer a non-owner is allowed to use a piece of property, the more likely it is that the law will side with them. The legal principle is known as "adverse possession," and it postulates that the longer a structure or use of land has existed, the more it should be allowed to continue because it's entrenched. 

If a fence or shed is a newly built structure, you have the best chance of blocking the adverse possession of your land. But if you ignore a clear violation, the law is more likely to believe that you aren't concerned and therefore should be forced to allow it to continue. And your title to the land may be put in doubt, hampering your ability to sell, pass on, or divide it later.  

How You Can Fight Encroachment

Generally, you have three options for dealing with someone using your land. The first is to just speak with the neighbor. Approach them with evidence of your boundaries through a plat or survey if possible. This approach works best with new or "in process" structures, of course. If you both can't come to a quick resolution, consider asking to use mediation to find a suitable arrangement. 

If removal can't be arranged, ask the neighbor to purchase the section of land from you. If you believe that adverse possession laws may apply to an existing element, selling the land provides financial gain to you that may not be possible if the court rules on the matter. 

The third, and most complex, option is to take the matter to court to eject the trespasser from your land. Because time is a factor, the earlier you can begin such proceedings, the more success you will have.  

Where You Should Start

Even if you're still weighing your options, the best place to find advice regarding trespassing is an experienced real estate law firm. They can help you learn the laws of adverse possession in your state and how to handle any out-of-court options like mediation. And then you can get this matter resolved so that it doesn't continue to weigh on you as a property owner.  

For more information, reach out to a local real estate law firm today.