What happens if you discover your fence or driveway is on your neighbor’s property? What do you do if your neighbor encroaches on your land?  This often happens when a new survey is completed, often as part of the sale of property.

Boundary line disputes can be expensive to resolve in court. They often require significant factual development, which leads to significant attorney fees. If possible, a compromise with your neighbor is often best.  A sale or exchange or property, with or without compensation can resolve the issue. A settlement is put into place by having the property surveyed and then executing quit claim deeds to complete the transfer.  A peaceful resolution also carries the considerable benefit of helping preserve a neighborly relationship.

If a boundary dispute does end up in court, two legal theories are potentially implicated – adverse possession and/or acquiescence. An adverse possession  claim (sometimes called squatter’s rights), arises when a person possesses property of another without possession for more than 15 years.  The elements of adverse possession are known by the acronym “OCEAN.” – Open, Continuous, Exclusive, Adverse and Notorious. If these elements are met for 15 years, title to the property can be transferred to the adverse possessor.

Acquiescence is typically thought of as an agreement by conduct.  A property line which has been treated by neighbors as a property line for at least 15 years can be established as the property line, even if different than the surveyed line. Courts justify these decisions as a reluctance to disturb long-established lines of occupation.

Choosing the right lawyer to pursue or defend against boundary line claims. There are many “tricks of the trade” that a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can use to uncover evidence to support your claims or defenses.  Simply knowing where to look is important.

Brown Law represents clients in boundary line disputes many times each year. If you have a boundary line issue, feel free to contact Brown law for experienced and knowledgeable representation.

Midland Michigan business, real estate, construction and commercial lawyer W. Jay Brown provides experienced representation of businesses and individuals throughout Mid- Michigan. Brown Law PLC – 414 Townsend, Suite 201 – Midland Michigan 48640 – (989) 486-3676 – brown@brownlawplc.com – www.brownlawplc.com

Disclaimer: The foregoing is not intended to be specific legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances nor to establish any attorney-client relationship. Such materials are for informational purposes only. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues or problems.