Property ownership gives you the freedom and flexibility to make a piece of land your own. You may wish to add a garage, a shed, a fence or some hedges. But might you be encroaching on your neighbor’s property? Or might your neighbor be encroaching on yours? In Connecticut as in other densely populated states, homeowners often don’t know exactly where their property lines are. That can cause legal disputes, which often come to the forefront at the time property is being sold.
Some of the imprecision leading to boundary line disputes comes from Connecticut’s colonial heritage. Back when early residents started claiming property, they often did it by putting up a fence or making a stone wall. Many parcels are not perfect squares or rectangles. Property deeds to this day might describe a property by reference to such old markers, even though they might no longer exist.
Boundary line disputes often arise when a homeowner wants to add a fixture or otherwise to develop the property. A local ordinance can require giving notice to neighbors within a certain radius. A neighbor can come forward with an objection, which in turn can reveal that what was thought to be the legal boundary line is actually off by a few inches or feet. Another common reason for dispute is one homeowner’s building of a fence or wall around the property, which another neighbor claims would be partly on his or her land.
The only way to know the true legal property line is to obtain an up-to-date property survey. Surveyors use modern technology, like lasers, to determine exact angles and distances. Unfortunately, a new survey is rarely done before listing a house for sale. Looking at existing land records during a title search doesn’t solve the issue, since clerks don’t independently verify the accuracy of deeds they record.
If part of the property you intend to sell is of disputed ownership, one potential resolution is to determine the market value of that part and to offer your neighbor a suitable sum of money in return for a quitclaim deed that gives ownership to you. Whatever the source of the dispute, staying out of court is advisable, since the cost of litigation can easily exceed the value of the disputed property. But you should consult with an experienced real estate lawyer to get advice and help in negotiating a resolution.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. in Hamden or East Haven helps clients resolve property line disputes in municipalities throughout Connecticut. Reach out to our real estate lawyers by calling 203-745-0942 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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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