Boundary disputes can cause friction between adjoining landowners. Your neighbor might put up a fence right on, or over, the property line. Or they might build a deck, porch or shed that crosses the line. Such an intrusion on your property — known as an encroachment — might not bother you immediately but it can become an issue when you sell your home. You’ll need to disclose the encroachment to potential buyers so they know about it and can factor it into their purchasing decision.
One way in which an encroachment can arise is when a neighbor builds something on a property line in violation of a municipal setback regulation. In this situation, you should take action to have the encroachment removed within a prescribed period or you may lose your right to enforce the setback requirement. Before going to the city yourself, you should consider discussing the situation with a local attorney who can explain the details of how the enforcement process works, and any other legal remedies that you may have.
Ignoring a neighbor’s encroachment can have serious consequences for your ownership rights. You could actually lose part of your property through a process known as adverse possession. This rule of law allows a person to acquire title to real estate owned by another person if they maintain open, visible and exclusive possession of the property for an uninterrupted period of 15 years. For instance, if your neighbor erects a fence that is on your side of the property line and you don’t do anything to correct the situation for 15 years, then your neighbor can claim ownership of the portion of the land inside the fenced-in area.
Connecticut law provides a way for landowners to interrupt the ticking of the adverse possession clock. If you serve a written notice on the encroaching party and file a lawsuit challenging the adverse possession within a year of giving the notice, this will be considered an interruption to the 15-year period. Of course, going to these lengths can be expensive and you should consider seeking assistance from a qualified real estate lawyer.
Before resorting to court filings, consider talking to your neighbor about the situation. They may be unaware of the boundary line and might be willing to move the structure. Alternatively, you could sell your neighbor the section of property that is encroached upon. Or you could consider giving them written permission to use your property. This permission is called an easement and it permanently affects title to the property. If you are thinking about reaching any form of accommodation with your neighbor, you should consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that you aren’t giving up more property rights than you intend.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. we represent landowners in all types of property boundary disputes. Please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online to speak with our experienced Hamden and East Haven-based lawyers about your situation.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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