California Residential Real Estate Attorneys Assisting with Property Line Disputes
When you are considering the possibility of buying or selling residential real estate in Southern California, or you are considering an addition to your existing property, it is important to understand how property line disputes affect real estate value and the ways in which property line disputes can arise. Generally speaking, property line or boundary disputes occur most frequently when a neighbor makes use of your property, or you overstep the boundary line and use a portion of your neighbor’s property. When you are buying or selling residential real estate in Riverside or elsewhere in Southern California, or you are planning to build a new structure along your property lines, it is important to know that certain uses of property ultimately may result in a property line dispute during the home sale process or in another context.
How Do Southern California Property Line Disputes Arise?
If you are thinking about the purchase or sale of residential real estate, it is critical to understand how property line disputes can happen. In most cases, the action that ultimately gives rise to this kind of dispute may be an action that is not intended to cause harm. Most frequently, a homeowner will construct or install some type of physical property division, such as a fence, a gate, a line of trees, or hedges. That homeowner might have the physical property division built or installed without having the property surveyed and thus may build over their actual property line, or the homeowner might believe that the physical barrier is in line with the surveyed lines of the property.
While these kinds of actions often are unintentional (and the homeowner may not have acted in bad faith when constructing a physical barrier on the property), these kinds of actions also can be taken in bad faith. When residential real estate is being sold and the property gets surveyed, or if a neighbor in an adjoining lot is planning to sell his or her house and has their property surveyed, a boundary dispute can happen. These kinds of disputes can also arise when a homeowner is planning to build an addition onto the home and has the property surveyed, only to learn that they own more or less property than they initially believed.
Adverse Possession in a Property Line Dispute in Riverside, CA
Depending upon the specific facts of the situation, a property line dispute can involve the legal issue of adverse possession. In general, California recognizes the legal notion of adverse possession, which can allow a neighbor (or another party) to have legal rights to property that they are not on title to. For example, if a neighbor builds a fence on your property and uses the fence to distinguish between your properties, your neighbor could come to own the property of yours along which the fence was constructed. Among other necessary factors, to have legal ownership of property through adverse possession, California law requires the adverse possessor to have paid taxes on the property for at least five years.
Adverse possession is different from an easement, which is not typically an issue in a property line dispute. An easement does not give someone legal ownership of your property, but instead gives someone the right to use your property for a specific purpose.
Seek Advice from a Riverside Residential Real Estate Lawyer
Property line disputes can be extremely contentious, and discovering a boundary dispute in the process of purchasing residential real estate can often derail the sale. If a neighbor actually owns more of the property than you expected when you put in an offer that was accepted on a home, the property may not have the same value that you initially believed. While boundary disputes may be resolved with assistance from a residential real estate lawyer, it is critical to have WZC on your side to represent you.