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Residential real estate issues: Encroachment

It is said that good fences make good neighbors, but knowing whose property the fence is on can be problematic. Some Delaware homeowners do not know the exact boundary lines of their property and could end up building on a neighbor's property. This residential real estate issue is defined as encroachment, and many people might not realize a problem exists until they are selling or buying property.

If a homeowner suspects that a neighbor has built a structure that is on his or her property, it can be a challenge to determine where to go from that point. Before embarking on any course of action that could disrupt any relationship with a neighbor, it would be a good idea to ensure the exact location of the boundaries on a person's property. If the survey indicates that the structure is encroaching on the homeowner's property, it might be beneficial to talk to the neighbor in question to see if there is a way to resolve the issue that satisfies both parties.

If the structure cannot be moved, but the neighbor is amenable to finding a mutually beneficial solution, then -- subject to local zoning laws -- that piece of property might be sold to the neighbor or express permission to use the property could be given in writing. Either of these amicable solutions could prevent the neighbor from being able to make a claim of ownership of the property through adverse possession. If necessary, legal action could be filed to prove ownership of the property and eject the other party from the land.

It might be a good idea to consider discussing this or other residential real estate issues with a Delaware attorney. Actions involving encroachment can be particularly troublesome because it can pit one neighbor against the other. Therefore, it would be a good idea for a homeowner to understand his or her legal rights, responsibilities and options before moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, "What Can You Do About an Encroachment?", Accessed on Aug. 12, 2016

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