What Happens if my Neighbor Builds Over the Property Line?

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Image @ Alan Evans | SWNS.com
Image @ Alan Evans | SWNS.com

Most people have an ideal where there property line is and will make sure they keep their activities and building projects within their own property lines. But sometimes this doesn’t happen.

There are many reasons why this can be the case, from a neighbor needing extra space to a simple mistake. The question is what do you do when you find your neighbor has built over the property line.

Get A Survey

The first thing that needs to be done is to confirm that you are correct. This means getting a building surveyor to survey and report on your property. They’ll be able to advise if the boundary is where you think it is and whether your neighbor has built on your property.

Talk To Your Neighbor

The next step is to talk to your neighbor regarding your concern. If you are already on good terms this should be fairly easy to do. You can show them your survey to back up your facts. It may be as simple as the neighbor didn’t realize.

Of course if you don’t have a good relationship with your neighbor you may prefer to use the services of an intermediary. It is not always a good idea to go straight to the lawyers as this can quickly make the problem worse.

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Your neighbor also has the right to undertake their own survey.

Solving The Issue

Identifying that the land they have built on is yours is not the end of the issue.

Your neighbor may voluntarily remove the part of his build that is on your land. However this may not be practical or possible. You’ll then be faced with a decision as to whether to leave the land as it is, ask your neighbor to pay you an easement or even sell them the small piece of land.

Taking it through legal channels is also an option but this is generally expensive and a long winded process. You need to consider how good your relationship is with your neighbor and whether it is worth the hassle of forcing them to tear their handiwork down.

The law will be on your side but this doesn’t mean you should take this step. You still have to live at the property and share a boundary with your neighbor.

It is worth noting that a boundary fence is the responsibility of both you and your neighbor. If you insist on it being moved you will have to pay at least half the cost and you may damage your relationship with your neighbor forever.

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There are also instances where the neighbor can claim the land if he has been using it without issue for 15 years or more.

You can consult lawyers but if you speak to a few it’s probably something that you don’t want to do.

The best solution is to come to a mutually beneficial compromise by talking or through the services of an intermediary. That will keep everyone happy.

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