How To Settle Property Line Disputes With Neighbors

Property Line Fence

Property line disputes can occur for a few reasons. You and your neighbor may disagree as to where you should place a fence, whether a tree falls on your property or your neighbor’s property or simply where your neighbor should be allowed to plant their vegetable garden. It’s not always immediately clear who is responsible for items that fall upon the property lines. For example, a boundary fence that is placed directly between two properties may require maintenance by both parties.

The Importance of Enforcing Your Property Lines

It’s very important to both know and enforce your property’s exact boundaries. If your neighbor is encroaching upon your property and continues to do so, they may actually gain the right to your property through the laws of adverse possession. Once this occurs you may need to see a real estate attorney to recover your property and recovery may not always be possible. It’s much easier to enforce your property lines beforehand.

Likewise, if you have been using a section of land for a long time and were under the genuine belief that it was covered under your deed, you may have a rightful claim to that land under the same laws. Before you give up this land, you may want to consult with an attorney to see if you qualify.

Finding Your Property Lines

Magnifying Glass

You should be able to find your property lines on your deed, but it’s important to note that deeds are not always correct. It’s ideal to cross-reference your deed with your neighbors’ deeds to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.

You may also want to check withyour tax assessor’s office. If there is any confusion, it can usually be peacefully resolved through a land survey. Finally, if the land survey does not resolve issues, then you may need to go to court. Most people will want to try the land survey first since it is the cheaper alternative.

Boundary Fence Laws in Pennsylvania

It’s very common for boundary fences, also known as division fences, to be put up between properties. When a boundary fence is put up with the consent of both owners, both owners will need to pay a reasonable amount for the building and upkeep of the fence. However, if both owners do not approve of a boundary fence, the situation is a little trickier.  In Pennsylvania, Fence Law requires that one who has livestock or other reasons for needing a fence will need to pay to maintain a fence even if they do not desire one. Residential owners may be able to successfully argue that they had no reason for a fence and thus do not need to pay for its maintenance.

Resolving Boundary Disputes

The best method of resolving a boundary dispute is to come to a legal and reasonable agreement with your neighbors. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. As mentioned above, it’s essential that these issues get resolved quickly; otherwise neighbors may gain legal rights to the use of your land or you may lose the right to use land that you believed to be your own. There is also a statute of limitations regarding these claims.

If you have an ongoing boundary or property line dispute with your neighbor, you may want to acquire legal counsel through a lawyer who specializes in property law. Your lawyer will be able to file a lawsuit to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. The courts will decide who the property involved truly belongs to.

About Max Beier

Maximilian F. Beier is a partner at Beier, Beier & Beier. He joined the law firm in 2001 as an associate after a two-year clerkship with Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, John P. Hester. He was made a partner in 2007. Max is experienced in litigating personal injury claims and product liability issues in the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania. Additional litigation experience includes business disputes, contract actions, real-estate and domestic matters. Max and wife Michele reside in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh, and are the proud parents of Maximilian Finley “Finn," and Braxton Beier.