Property boundaries, the age-old disagreement over who owns what. The “Hatfields and McCoys” are just one story that comes to mind, but neighbors have been moving fences and fighting over property lines for centuries. Gone are the days when the shotgun solved this predicament. Fortunately, our modern society has land surveyors to solve these disputes quickly and bloodlessly.
When you first purchase your property, the title company will provide you with a plot map depicting where your property boundaries lie. Or, you can simply go down to your local county records office and request one. In many cases, the lines may have been determined over 100 years ago before modern techniques and equipment refined the process. Don’t be surprised to realize that your property pins may have mistakenly or purposely been moved over time.
If you want to have your property boundaries clearly defined, you can hire a civil engineer or surveyor to measure and place property pins in the correct places. If you are trying to settle a dispute with a neighbor, it may be necessary to have the assistance of a lawyer to ensure your neighbor will adhere to the new boundaries.
A lawyer or surveyor should be educated in the easement laws of the state. Unfortunately, in some states, an easement of adverse possession can be acquired if no one has protested the use of the land for a long period of time, such as ten years.
If you are planning a new building project, some counties require all property boundaries to be clearly defined ahead of time. Many fire agencies have specific setback requirements for fire prevention, and before you can be issued a permit, property pins will need to be in place. In some cases, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover you actually have a larger yard than you expected. Either way, you’ll feel better building a fence or landscaping your yard if your property lines are correct.