History is full of stories where countries go to war over borders, and it still happens today. Landowners are also often dead serious about their property lines. Regardless of the size of the parcel, any perceived encroachment can be a source for anger and annoyance that boils over into a years-long feud or a lawsuit.
While Texans do not need to wage armed conflicts over property lines, there are still disagreements over an eminent domain issue regarding a government or utility company or border disputes with neighbors. Now, the best and most sensible option is working with an attorney to resolve the matter, whether it is intentional encroachment or confusion over the borderline. These can involve a neighbor erecting a structure on your property or using your property as if it is theirs.
Legal options for addressing disputes
There are several options for determining the correct property line:
- Consult the survey: Buyers should consult the survey of the land or have it resurveyed (if it is an old survey) before they sign a purchase agreement.
- Quiet title litigation: Less aggressive than regular litigation, here the property owners can take a border dispute to court and have the judge determine a solution for the dispute. This can also clear up any outstanding liens on the property or administrative errors that led to the dispute.
- Declaratory judgment: This is the result of a court trial with a jury. This typically happens when there are no written laws in connection to the dispute.
- Reach accord on boundary lines: The neighbors may be able to reach an agreement on where exactly the boundary line is. Both sides must then sign a quitclaim agreement, which recognizes ownership of each landowner.
- Adverse possession: In some instances, a property may be abandoned or not maintained for extended periods. Someone else can then come in (with or without the knowledge of the owner) and use the land as if it is legally theirs and take adverse possession if they make improvements to the property and increase its value.
Legal solutions are the best solutions
The most effective and longest-lasting resolution of a border dispute involves one or more of the above legal processes. It may be tempting to yell or make threats, but violence in these matters will only lead to more problems.