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The problem with a neighbor building over the property line

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2020 | Property Law

Whether you have a big, rural property or a tiny parcel within city limits, every square foot of your property contributes to its overall value. The size and location of your real estate can directly influence what you are able to sell it for in the future. Of course, improvements like buildings, fences and even formal planting can drastically increase curb appeal and make people more interested in the property.

If your neighbor installs a fence, pours the foundation for an outbuilding or plants perennials on your side of the property boundary, you might feel inclined to ignore their encroachment on your property in the hope of maintaining a good relationship. Unfortunately, if you don’t take action, your neighbor’s inappropriate placement of their improvements could impact your property value.

The longer you take to respond, the greater the risk of an issue

When someone openly uses and builds on your real property, there is a risk of them laying claim to that section of your property eventually. Under Texas law, someone who has established open possession of property that they do not hold the deed for can eventually initiate adverse possession proceedings against that piece of property.

Whether you’re talking about a few square feet under a fence on your side of the boundary or a quarter of an acre covered by a building or a driveway, that space belongs to you. If you don’t enforce your boundary rights early, your neighbor could eventually go to court and show that they have openly used the property for years. Provided that they meet the standards under state law, a decade after they assume possession, they can potentially take you to court to try to claim it as their own.

The first step to fighting encroachment is verifying the boundary

Before you serve your neighbor with a cease-and-desist letter to stop their planting or construction, you will need to establish that the boundary as you understand it is actually the legal boundary for the property. You can then take the necessary steps to address the boundary dispute and protect your property.

You will need to work with professionals, likely both a lawyer and a surveyor, in order to maximize your protection and avoid the loss of valuable property to a neighbor’s inappropriate improvements.