Handling Boundary Disputes

Perhaps the property lines of the multi-generation family farm you live on were originally laid out with a big oak tree on one side and a giant rock on the other. But the old oak tree isn’t there anymore. Do you fight about the exact boundary line with your neighbor or work something out?

Rusty Rumley is a senior staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center. He says boundary dispute resolutions vary from state-to-state.  One option is to have a survey done, but you still might not have the answers you want.

"One thing that’s kind of important to realize with these surveys is you can call three surveyors, they can all come out, they all do a survey, they all do a competent job, and none of those survey lines are on the exact same spot as the others," says Rumley. "Sometimes they’re really close to one another, but the odds of them being exactly where the others are usually isn’t all that high, especially when you get into ones that are not as cut-and-dried."

Sometimes a survey that shows a definitive property line isn’t the final answer.

"Other things can influence whether or not your rights to that particular piece of land have been curtailed at some point through things like adverse possession, or boundaries by acquiescence," he says. "There’s other types of ways that the survey might be accurate and this might be land that originally belonged to this parcel but over time it’s been lost."

The most expensive approach to resolve a property line is going to court. Ask yourself is the battle worth it because not only are you losing money in lawyer's fees, you may also lose a friend.