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Why homeowners should not ignore boundary violations

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Real Estate Law |

Purchasing and maintaining residential real property could very well be the biggest financial investment of someone’s life. People often save for years to be able to afford homeownership and then devote roughly a third of their income toward mortgage payments every month for three decades or longer.

Protecting that investment is as much about maintaining strong community ties as it is about maintaining the premises. Particularly if someone intends to live at the same property for many years, they may turn a blind eye to petty disputes and minor issues involving their immediate neighbors. After all, they don’t want to start a conflict that could lead to passive-aggressive behavior, like intentionally failing to maintain a property out of spite when someone complains about an unkempt lawn.

However, there are certain actions by neighbors that people cannot ignore. Flagrant boundary violations are among the most pressing real estate disputes that must be addressed. Homeowners may need to clarify property boundaries and take legal action to prevent a neighbor from using or building on their property.

Why boundary issues matter

Any boundary violation could affect someone’s quiet enjoyment of their property. It could also eventually lead to a reduction in their overall property value. Boundary violations that include property improvements such as driveways, edifices or fencing could make a portion of someone’s property inaccessible.

Given enough time, the neighbor who violated the boundary line by building over it could potentially seek adverse possession of that property. The law in New Jersey potentially allows someone who has openly used someone else’s real property for 30 years or longer to seek legal ownership of that property.

Someone might lose a significant portion of their residential parcel to a boundary violation. Every square footage of yard affects the overall fair market value of the home. Someone who loses part of their parcel to a neighbor may find that the overall value of their property decreases as a result. Even without an adverse possession claim, the incursion could reduce the fair market value of the property.

Verifying the actual placement of a boundary, communicating about boundary issues with a neighbor and taking legal action if they do not acknowledge the boundary violation can all help protect a residential homeowner from the negative impact of a neighbor’s misconduct or misunderstanding. Homeowners who know and assert their boundaries can more effectively preserve the value of their real estate holdings.

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