Your neighbor decided to build a large new deck behind his or her house. It's beautiful when it gets done, but you quickly notice that there is a serious problem. The edge of the deck goes farther than the property line. When you check your records, it's clear that your neighbor built such a large structure that it's actually on your land.
This is called encroachment, and this is only one example. It can also happen when someone builds a new shed that cross the line, puts up a fence in the wrong location, puts an addition on a home that extends over the line or does anything else to use your land without permission.
Now what? Your three basic options are:
- Go to court. Show that the land is yours, that your neighbor had no right to use it, and that the court needs to order him or her to remove the encroaching structure.
- Sell the land to your neighbor. The deck isn't encroaching that far onto your property. The sale gives both you and your neighbor peace of mind, your neighbor doesn't have to tear out that brand new deck, and you get some financial compensation. Everyone wins.
- Talk it out. Explain the problem and ask your neighbor what he or she would like to do. Some people just agree to do nothing if it feels like more trouble than it is worth. You may also find a creative option, like getting permission to use the deck yourself.
Disputes between neighbors are tricky because you still have to live next to your neighbor when it's all over. Make sure you know what legal options you have.
Source: FindLaw, "What Can You Do About an Encroachment?," accessed May 25, 2018