Dodging Neighborhood Disputes through Good Communication

Neighborhood disputes can kindle major tension leading to lawsuits or worse. Some of the oldest conflicts in the history of mankind have been over property.

Ancient lawmakers created concepts like deeds and boundary lines, to make certain that both owners and neighbors were acquainted with property boundaries. Even with these parameters firmly defined, neighborhood quarrels are still common.

Too often, the tension washes over other neighbors not involved in the dispute. Here’s a true example:

One neighbor, upset over the height of an adjacent fence, decided to level it. He lost control of the bulldozer he was using and managed to damage four homes and cut power to 1,000 local residents in the process.

Avoid disputes

Its best to dodge disputes altogether and avoid any bad legal battles. On the premise that forewarned is forearmed, let’s take a look at some common problems neighbors may find themselves up against.

Fences

Fences that are installed over or on top of boundary lines are common causes of disagreements. With the help of a local surveyor, these types of disputes are easily prevented. And a property owner has the right to erect a fence on his property as he sees fit. Remember to always leave a reasonable buffer zone between the fence and that line.

When it comes to the legal boundary lines of your property, it is safest to hire a surveyor to determine the exact boundary line.

Water

Water sources that straddle or form property lines are another potential minefield. Riparian water rights (or simply riparian rights) is a system for allocating water among those who possess land along its path. If your potential problem is a water dispute, working with a riparian rights attorney might be best.

Trees

An astonishingly vast number of conflicts are caused by trees! The problem is that trees, like all healthy plants, can grow from a small seedling into an enormous, threat filling both sides of a boundary.

If such a drama is unfolding on one of your property borders, experts suggest negotiating possession (in writing) before problems of trimming or felling come up. Determining the ownership of the plant in question will determine who is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of it.

Don’t try to trim the offending plant or cut it back to the property line. This can cause unnecessary damage or lead to conflict with your neighbor. Sometimes, a new survey of the property may be necessary if the boundary line is uncertain.

Nuisances

It is not nice to be on either side of a nuisance suit.

The law of nuisance comes into play when neighbor A sues neighbor B, claiming that B’s action (on his property) is interfering with A’s right to enjoy his property. In this case A is seeking to control or limit the use of the land owned by B.

Hostile disputes between neighboring property owners can turn into even more disagreeable and emotionally draining lawsuits. All people have the right to the peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property.

Keep the lines of communication open with all your neighbors. And if communication breaks down, you may have to consult a mediator or attorney experienced in property disputes.

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