When you first buy a home or set up an office location, you probably don’t expect to ever become embroiled in a lawsuit with your neighbor. Unfortunately, property disputes are more common than you may think. With an attorney’s help you can navigate these delicate situations while protecting your legal rights and finding a workable solution.
Steps to Take During a Louisiana Boundary Dispute
Disagreements over property lines often take place when someone decides to make an improvement or addition, like constructing a fence, but has misunderstood where the boundaries of their property end.
Someone may plant a tree on the boundary line, which could fall over and damage your property, or the roots and branches could grow into your side. If this sort of boundary dispute has come up or you expect one to arise shortly because of planned changes, you will need to perform an:
- Appraisal – It’s important to determine early if the potential cost of legal action is even worth the price of the land being disputed.
- Survey – A professional surveyor uses deeds to the two properties in question to locate and physically mark off the boundaries of each property line.
- Title search – Finding all documents involving the property that have been properly filed and then reviewing the title insurance or deed may help settle the dispute. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, these documents will also be crucial to argue ownership in court.
Your next and most important step in the process is to get in touch with a real estate litigation attorney who has experience with Louisiana property laws. While it’s entirely possible you can solve the dispute via a simple conversation with your neighbor, it's likely you will need to have an attorney send a demand letter to resolve the dispute. That letter outlines the boundary situation and offers a potential solution by requesting the other party make some kind of change.
Why You Need an Attorney to Resolve Boundary Issues
Your legal counsel can also assist by assessing the situation and helping you and the other party reach other potential solutions, like buying or renting the disputed land so both neighbors are satisfied with the outcome. Depending on the circumstances of the case, your lawyer may instead need to file a complaint asking the court to decide who owns the disputed land, or even seek damages for your costs.
In instances where you can’t come to an amicable agreement with the other party, you need a trial-ready attorney who can present the facts of the property line dispute in court. There are a host of potential issues you may not even be aware of ahead of time that can interfere with your claim, however. You may need an attorney to help you deal with unexpected issues such as:
- Adverse possession. Under Louisiana law, someone who openly occupies and improves an area of land for a period of at least 10 years can make a legal claim for ownership of the land. In these cases, the “trespasser” may not have even been aware they were trespassing if the boundary lines between two pieces of property were unclear.
- Common property. A fence placed directly on the boundary may be considered commonly owned, meaning both land owners have the right and responsibility of upkeep and both can legally make changes or improvements to the fence.
- Multiple deeds may show different parties owning the same area of land that must be untangled in court.
- The previous owner may have granted an easement or given permission for the neighbor to use that part of the property.
Have a Boundary Dispute? Call an Experienced Attorney Today
If a neighbor has started infringing on your property with new construction, or you are looking to make an improvement, but there is a dispute about property boundaries, you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Get in touch with the Scott Vicknair law firm so our team can discuss your boundary dispute and help you take the right steps towards a resolution.