Protecting Your Assets: What to do if there is a Dispute over Ground

A core social value in the United States of America is the right to own land, and yet disputes over land ownership are not uncommon. There have also been several newsworthy incidents where the government has expropriated land for public use or imposed restrictions on the land which has led to court action. For many people, property represents a major valuable part of their assets.

Land disputes – two main areas

Typically, there are two main areas that result in disputes over land

  • Title deeds may contain mistakes or omissions, limitations on land use, liens or transfers not on record, easements – the right of others to access the land
  • Boundary disputes – the most common land dispute

Legal advice is important

Land dispute issues can become very complex so it is important that you get legal advice up front. A lawyer can give you an unbiased and neutral evaluation of the problem. She can help you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your position and can give you advice on how the case could fare in a court of law. For expert advice see

Boundary dispute options

If you are faced with a boundary dispute, you could attempt to negotiate with your neighbour to reach consensus, you could jointly employ an expert to survey the land or alternatively, you could take legal action. An attorney will be able to weigh up the best option for you.

Negotiation is generally a lot cheaper than taking legal action. A mediator can create an environment in which the parties can engage in a joint problem-solving. Through mediation people frequently come up with creative ways to solve problems that would likely not have come out of litigation. By choosing to use a mediator the final decision still remains completely in the hands of those in dispute, but once the settlement is made it is binding on both parties.

Compromises can be made but once a resolution is found the outcome must be drafted into an agreement by an attorney, and documents must be entered into public record.

Litigation – the last resort

If negotiation does not succeed, litigation may be the only remaining option. During litigation, the judge will decide the position of the boundary based on evidence that is presented to him. If you have not first attempted to negotiate the outcome with your neighbour before approaching the court you may be told to do so.

If you decide to go the route of litigation you will require a litigator who specialises in property law. He will collect all the evidence that you need to go to court. He will do a detailed study of the legal documents involved. He will collect the relevant land surveys and will conduct research into historical records. Together you and he will build a case to get your land back. Make sure that you keep records of all your engagements with your neighbour and any relevant paperwork.

Unresolved disputes can make your land unsaleable, as disputes over land must be disclosed to any potential buyers. These disputes must be resolved before you can enjoy the full use of your property.