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Are Your Neighbors Overstepping Their Bounds?

This is the season for home improvement. You may be noticing people in your neighborhood replacing their roofs, painting their porches or refreshing their landscaping. You may have some projects on your own calendar.

Perhaps your closest neighbors mentioned their plans to build a shed or put up a fence between your properties. However, you were not prepared when you saw the new construction crossing over to your side of the property line. If your neighbor is encroaching on your land, it is important to act quickly. Failing to reclaim your property may result in the courts assuming you have forfeited the land.

Steps to resolving a boundary issue

It is always best to try to resolve property disputes civilly by speaking with your neighbor personally. If you and your neighbor have a good relationship, you may be able to work things out. However, if having a conversation does not convince your neighbor to move his fence or construct his building elsewhere, you may have to take more serious steps, such as the following:

  • Gather proof of the property boundaries, such as the description of your property in your deed or the plat that came with your settlement papers. You can also find this information online.
  • Contact an attorney for advice on the best way to present the information to your neighbor as well as an understanding of Connecticut laws.
  • Send copies of the deed and plat to your neighbor with your request for a resolution, either moving the structure or compensating you for the land.
  • Hire a surveyor to provide additional proof to your neighbor of your boundary lines.
  • Consider mediation to resolve the conflict.

Your neighbors may be reasonable in the face of your proof and concede that they have overstepped your property line. On the other hand, you may agree to reestablish the property line to allow your neighbors to continue their construction. This will require the legal amendment to both property deeds or the signing of an easement.

If matters do not improve, you may have to file a civil claim asking a judge to take action against your neighbor for trespassing. The judge will likely abide by the findings of the surveyor. Of course, if the encroachment is a matter of inches, the court will likely frown on your actions against your neighbor. However, overlooking a substantial violation can create serious issues for you down the line when you try to sell your house. Prospective buyers may not want to deal with a property dispute.