Boundary Disputes: When Good Fences Fail


As the saying goes, “good fences make good neighbors.” But what happens when your neighbor disagrees with you about where the fence should be? Often, the result is a lengthy, bitter dispute that can reduce the size of your land or make your property impossible to sell. These disputes also can quickly escalate, even resulting in physical violence or property damage.

However, should a boundary dispute arise, there are ways to avoid a protracted, emotionally charged dispute and maintain peace with your neighbor:

  • Know your property line: check your title insurance policy and your deed to determine your property boundaries. You also may need to hire a surveyor.
  • Meet with your neighbor and maintain a friendly, respectful attitude. Easier said than done—but a friendly approach can go a long way toward resolving the dispute.
  • Write a formal letter to your neighbor documenting the boundary line, the disputed land and provide a copy of your plat or survey.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to suggest mediation. An experienced mediator will actively listen to both sides and help you and your neighbor take a deep breath, calm down and find a way to settle the dispute without resorting to costly, protracted litigation. Mediation works especially well for this type of dispute because it allows both sides to express their frustrations, cooperate in the resolution and—ideally—repair the relationship. After all, you and your neighbor have to live in close proximity; maintaining the peace is essential.

Pacific ADR has mediators with real estate dispute experience who stand ready to resolve your case. Please visit our website or call us at 206.624.3388.

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