What Can You Do About An Encroachment?
Learning about encroachment and making sure you are familiar with your property’s boundary as well as your neighbor’s property lines is a serious matter. When you buy a property you know where your boundaries are and assume you’re safe on your own land. It can then come as a bit of a shock and a surprise when your neighbor erects a new fence or some other structure that comes onto your land.
You’re then faced with a problem; do you create a fuss and risk falling out with your neighbor or do you just accept it? In reality neither is a great option which is why it is essential that you know what to do about encroachment.
You may be surprised to know that there is an actual act to cover these types of disputes; the encroachment act 1944.
Verify Your Boundaries
Just because there was a fence up when you bought the house does not mean that it is actually in the right spot. The first thing you need to do if your land has been encroached on is to speak to a good surveyor, such as One Search Locators.
They will survey your land to define the boundaries and whether there are any utilities under the ground. This is important as the utility company and maybe even your neighbor could have access rights to underground utilities. A good firm will use digital imaging or vacuum technology to map the ground below your feet.
Once you have this information you’ll know exactly where your boundaries are and whether your neighbor has actually encroached or not.
Approach Your Neighbor
Armed with the facts you’ll be able to visit your neighbor and ask them why they have encroached on your land. If you think the meeting may get aggressive then you may prefer to invite them out for a drink and deal with them in a public place.
Your neighbor may simply not have realized where the boundary was. If the meeting goes smoothly they will simply move the structure. Of course, they may want to have their own survey done first.
If your initial meeting fails to produce the desired result it is likely that the relationship between you and your neighbor will start to deteriorate. At this point, you’ll need to engage the services of a negotiator or mediator. They can act as an independent witness to your conversations and help you and your neighbor come to an agreement that suits both of you.
This may mean selling them a small piece of your land in order to save them face; especially if you don’t need or use the land anyway.
If the mediator has no success in resolving your dispute then you’ll need to approach the courts with your proof of ownership and proof of boundaries. The court has the power to tell your neighbor to tear down whatever they have erected; if they don’t the court will arrange for it to be done for them.
It’s very important for you to do a title search. A title search will find all recorded documents in the chain of title of your property and will show if there are any easements or deeds that may affect your ownership interest in the property. At this point, it is unlikely that your relationship with your neighbor will recover but you do have your principles to stand up for.
Don’t forget to read First Time Homeowner A Must Read Guide To Pre-Move-In Upgrades too!
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