Whether you have owned your Bay Area property for years or have recently acquired it, you could find yourself dealing with a boundary dispute at some point. If this happens, the best course of action is generally to remain as neutral as possible when the dispute arises. And quickly engage an experienced real estate attorney to represent you, as such disputes can end up in court.
Meera Parikh, a partner at Poniatowski Leding Parikh Law Corporation, recently settled a boundary dispute between two commercial properties in San Leandro that came to light when one property owner made improvement plans that imposed on the other property. In the end, Meera worked with the two sides to negotiate a settlement that avoided a court hearing.
To view the court filings for this case, click here: Salwan vs. Donnelly
The following is a quick guide on boundary disputes and how property owners can resolve them.
How Does a Boundary Dispute Between Neighbors Get Started?
Boundary disputes may occur for a variety of reasons. A homeowner’s new fence might be installed several feet within the property line of his neighbor’s land. A commercial investment firm may discover that a neighboring business has added landscaping that encroaches on the firm’s property boundary line. Sometimes natural boundaries, such as a road or a river, may have naturally shifted or have been altered by humans. Any of these can cause problems for adjacent property owners.
Making Sense of the Gray Areas
One common scenario is when a property owner believes that part of his neighbor’s land is his own, but in fact, it belongs to the neighbor. Additionally, it is not uncommon for both adjacent neighbors to incorrectly assume that a property line lies in an obvious place, such as where a fence, a retaining wall, or a driveway has existed for decades. Sometimes, confusion can stem from an error or inconsistency in a parcel’s description.
Because of all these factors, real estate boundary concerns can be confusing and frustrating for both parties.
What to Do if a Boundary Dispute Arises
In California, resolving a boundary discrepancy can be far more complex than many property owners might expect. Most homeowners are not equipped to navigate this process without legal representation. In most cases, settling the issue without professional help simply isn’t possible.
- 1. The first step may be to have the property in question surveyed by a licensed surveyor, who can identify the boundary itself.
2. An appraisal should be performed to determine the market value of the property.
3. A full title search will probably be needed, also. This search is meant to locate the documents associated with the property’s chain of title, and could reveal any deeds or easements that impact ownership of the property.
If the property involves commercial real estate, a boundary issue could be even more complicated. What improvements have been made to the land involved, by whom, and how long ago? A landlord will need the help of a commercial real estate attorney to assist in formally resolving such disputes.
Ideally, as Meera Parikh did with Salwan vs. Donnelly, the attorneys for both parties will be able to negotiate an agreement that works for everyone. This option avoids the need for a quiet title action and expensive litigation. If litigation is ultimately required to resolve the boundary line dispute, it is important to have retained an experienced real estate attorney at the beginning of the dispute to make sure that all legal rights and privileges have been preserved during the pre-litigation negotiations.
Consult the Real Estate Law Experts at Poniatowski Leding Parikh Law Corporation
If you are faced with a boundary dispute in Oakland, Pleasanton, Hayward or another East Bay location, you should contact an experienced attorney for help in resolving the dispute early on. The team at Poniatowski Leding Parikh Law Corporation has many years of experience in real estate law.
Feel free to call us at any of our office locations, or contact us online today.