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Boundary Dispute Attorney Serving Los Angeles, California

Owning a home of your own is part of the American Dream. It is also the biggest investment most people will make in their lifetimes. Purchasing a home, however, can become a nightmare if you and your neighbor can’t get along—and one area of contention that can lead to disputes is boundary lines. Did your neighbor encroach on your property when they built their fence? Is your neighbor’s treehouse hanging over your property line? 

Boundary disputes can make living in your home frustrating and potentially even overwhelming. If matters end up in court, one of you might win and the other might lose, and then how do you ever co-exist next to one another as neighbors? One of you is likely going to harbor animosity and resentment. 

Determining property lines is not that easy, unfortunately. But it can be done. If you as a property owner in Los Angeles are in a boundary dispute with a neighbor or other property owner—or even with the city over a zoning or other issue—contact an attorney at Builders Law Group, Inc. We have more than 15 years of experience in helping clients resolve real estate disputes, and we can help you with any boundary issue you face. 

We proudly serve clients throughout Southern California, not only in Los Angeles County but also throughout the counties of Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego.  

What Is a Boundary? 

Deeds and other legal documents often attempt to define where the boundary lines to a property are, but disagreements and confusion can still result. If you buy a property, there may already be an existing fence, fences, or other structures that purport to follow the boundary lines, but disputes can still ensue. As the Department of Public Works notes, actual boundary lines can typically only be established through a physical survey. 

Common Boundary Disputes

When it comes to fences, California law assumes that each neighbor benefits from the construction and maintenance of a fence, and thus both should be responsible for its cost and repairs. This does not mean that neighbors will actually agree on the issue, but the law assumes joint benefit. One neighbor may object to the fence or desire a new version and the other may not. One may even tear down the fence and construct their own version without consulting their neighbor. Disputes can easily result. 

Another contentious matter falls under the category of what are called “spite fences.” If a neighbor erects a fence that is at least 10 feet tall just to annoy you, you can sue them for privacy nuisance. However, if your issue is solely with the aesthetics or look of a fence your neighbor built, then the issue becomes more complicated. You’d have to determine if the fence somehow violates any neighborhood association rules or relevant covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). 

Trees are another matter that can lead to disputes. California actually has fairly strict laws when it comes to tree trimming. If branches and roots from a neighbor’s tree extend into your property, you have to be careful about trimming or cutting them. Some cities have stricter ordinances than others, but if you damage—or worse, kill—a neighbor’s tree, you can face civil and sometimes even criminal penalties. 

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Adverse Possession

Let’s assume a neighbor built a playhouse that appears to cross the boundary line into your property or even a fence that encroaches on your property. If the act occurs while you occupy the property being encroached upon, you can certainly object and take whatever actions are necessary—discussion, mediation, demand letter, legal action—to have the construction stopped. But what if the playhouse already existed when you bought your property? 

This, then, becomes an issue of adverse possession. California law states that someone who trespasses on your property can establish title to it if their possession is actual, open, and hostile. The law also states that the possession must last for five or more years for adverse possession to take place.  

Additionally, the law requires that the trespasser pay taxes on the property, but this can be a confusing issue in California since property taxes are based on purchase price, not necessarily on land value. That playhouse may have become part and parcel of your neighbor’s home through adverse possession. 

It’s important to contact a real estate attorney, no matter your specific boundary dispute. 

Resolving Boundary Disputes

Discussions with your neighbor are the starting point of resolving any boundary dispute. If discussions lead nowhere, you can propose mediation or arbitration, or you can get your real estate attorney to send a demand letter to your neighbor spelling out what needs to be done. You can, of course, always file a lawsuit against your neighbor, but you will likely have to coexist with them for years to come. That could sully the relationship completely, to say the least. 

Boundary Dispute Attorney Serving Los Angeles, California

If you are facing a boundary dispute with a neighbor or a business entity in or around Los Angeles, California, reach out to us at Builders Law Group, Inc. We will discuss the issue with you, determine if your boundaries are truly being violated, and then work with you on a resolution. Set up a consultation with us when you’re ready to get started.