Property and boundary disputes can be a very challenging area of real estate law. General examples of these types of disputes are a property divider, wall, or fence that is in the wrong place, a dispute over ownership of land, a property encroachment, improved property being developed on the wrong lot, and an incorrect survey. Having one of these issues can prevent you from selling your property or devalue your property. Since real estate is likely any owner’s most valuable asset, you can rest assured they will fight diligently to protect it.
Confusion and uncertainty can create property and boundary disputes. Property owners assume that fences and walls are placed correctly on the property line when they may not be. Deeds can have errors and multiple parties may have rights to property. Interpreting and reading surveys and legal documents improperly also contribute to these disputes. If the confusion or uncertainty is not resolved, things can escalate quickly between property owners. Even the President of the United States of America can find himself in a land dispute in Texas.
Having a property dispute?
Addressing a dispute with another property owner is key when a discrepancy may arise. Delaying a resolution could cost you and cause you further damage. Quickly gathering all your documentation is the first step. Most documents you need will be recovered from your closing package such as the survey and documents from the city like plat maps and deeds.
it is important to get with one of our San Antonio property dispute lawyers to conduct a property audit once you have all your documentation. A property audit is a thorough and complete review of all the documentation pertaining to the dispute. The lawyers will interpret all the documents and establish what rights you have and what can be done to remedy the dispute.
Property Dispute or Boundary Dispute Demand Letters
Regardless of which resolution you choose, a notice of dispute or demand letter should always be sent to the opposing property owner to give them notice of the alleged claims.
Benefits of sending a notice of dispute or demand letter:
- It will provide a documented attempt to amicably resolve the dispute. It is a good practice to start with this step since most litigation will require this anyway.
- It will document the opposing property owner’s resistance to remedying the issues if they don’t comply.
- If they do comply it would save you energy, time, and money by resolving the issue without litigation. it’s a great idea to have a San Antonio property dispute lawyer prepare a settlement agreement if you can come to terms at this point. Recourse through a breach of contract suit is always an option If they fail to comply after they agreed to it in writing.
Property Dispute or Boundary Dispute Litigation
A simple demand letter does not solve all disputes. Most are not in fact. This is why it is good to have a San Antonio property dispute lawyer involved from the start to ensure you are taking the right steps to set up and prosecute your claims with the shortest time period and minimal financial obligation.
There are generally four types of causes of action related to these types of conflicts:
Trespass to real property is an unauthorized entry upon the land of another, and may occur when one enters, or causes something to enter, another’s property In order to recover damages for trespassing, (1) the plaintiff must show they own the land, (2) the entry of the defendant was physical, intentional and voluntary, and (3) the defendant’s trespass caused injury to the plaintiff.
Pentagon Enterprises v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., 540 S.W.2d 477, 478 (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 1976, writ ref’d. n.r.e.).
An encroachment is when a person has a physical intrusion that intrudes on or over one’s land. The physical intrusion can be structural, nonstructural, or vegetative. This can include a fence, shed, tree, grass, or even a house.
Encroachment is very similar to trespass except that a trespass applies to a person making an unauthorized entry onto another ’s land. An encroachment, on the other hand, applies to a structure or some other physical object that illegally protrudes or invades one’s land.
In layman’s terms, adverse possession is when a person uses, occupies, or possesses land or improved property continuously for a certain period of time and takes legal possession of the property. The Texas statute allows for a 3, 5, and 10 year time period. There are different requirements for each time frame but it is possible to legally take one’s land even if you were not the true owner.
This typically happens when a neighbor has used a piece of property for an extended period of time and then eventually makes a legal claim to the property. Upholding an adverse possession claim is not as easy as it sounds as there are many requirements you have to fulfill to be awarded an adverse possession claim. Speak to one of our Houston property dispute lawyers to get more details on the requirements.
A declaratory judgment is where a court declaration is sought when a controversy exists between parties and can only be resolved by a trial in the court of law. These types of causes of action are used when there is no written law on which party is right and which party is wrong.
In many cases these types of causes of action are determined by case law. The Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act governs declaratory judgments and can be found in chapter 37 of the Texas Practice and Remedies Code.
Why Guerra | Days Law Group
Most property disputes and boundary disputes can be resolved through a settlement or agreement. Not all of them can be and require litigation unfortunately. If you or someone you know thinks you may have a property dispute or boundary dispute, you need to contact a San Antonio property dispute lawyer from our office to help guide through your legal options.
Knowing what can be done by getting proper legal advice is important to resolve the dispute in the most timely and cost effective manner. Not relying on an expert can cause more expenses and further damages. Make sure and let a professional guide you in resolving your dispute.