A property line marks the legal boundaries of a plot of land. Also called a boundary line, a property line is usually established by the measurements of a professional surveyor. More recently, GPS technology is also used to establish property lines. Property lines often follow natural features of the land, such as rivers, ditches, creeks, or trees. 

In some cases, property lines may be described in the actual recorded title to the property. Property line disputes are common between adjoining neighbors, businesses that are near each other, and instances where a business is located very near to residential property.   

What Are Some Common Property Line Disputes?

Property line disputes can often arise if there is some question as to the legal boundaries of the property. These can involve a broad range of property disputes, including:

  • Agreed boundary disputes: In some cases, a property line dispute can be resolved by the two property owners expressly agreeing to a designated line. However, this can raise problems if one of the neighbors moves. 
  • Boundary line acquiescence: A property line can be established if the parties’ conduct over time indicates that they agree to the boundary. Again, this can cause issues if a court rules otherwise in the future; one party may lose a significant potion of their land.  
  • Zoning issues: Property line disputes can often involve zoning issues. For instance, the property line can indicate where commercial activities may or may not be conducted, or it can involve access to public areas.
  • Title disputes: Property line disputes can often lead to disputes over title to the entire land, or to a small portion of land in question (such as an alley way, or the space in between homes). These types of disputes can also involve other property issues like adverse possession or easements.

Lastly, property line disputes can also involve the local or municipal government. City councils and boards often determine boundary lines based on historic usage, local resources, and other factors. If the municipality encroaches upon residential rights, it can lead to a legal cause of action against the city (usually involves the “takings” doctrine). 

What Are Some Legal Solutions for Property Line Disputes?

Property line disputes may often require the filing of a lawsuit, especially if the parties can’t agree to a reasonable conclusion regarding the boundary. In some instances, the court may order that the boundary lines be re-drawn using the measurements of a professional surveyor. 

In addition, if one party’s conduct has caused damages to the other party, it can result in a damages award to the victim. This may cover various losses, including the cost of redrawing the line, especially if it involves removing or rebuilding parts of the real property.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Property Line Lawsuit?

Property line disputes can often be complicated. They sometimes require in-depth research of the property’s history, including a title search at the county recorder’s office. You may wish to contact a real estate lawyer if you need help filing a lawsuit. Your attorney can determine which types of legal remedies might be applicable in your situation. Also, your lawyer can perform research to determine if there have been any recent changes to the property line laws in your area.