What Circumstances Might Call For Real Estate Litigation?
There are a number of different circumstances that might call for real estate litigation.
One surprising circumstance that can lead to real estate litigation is a dispute about where the boundary of your property is. Most people think of property boundaries as rather concrete. You would think that the boundaries of your property would be a basic issue that no one would ever find cause to fight over.
However, this is a mistaken belief. Disputes about property boundaries actually come up with some frequency. There are many basic disagreements about where one person’s property ends and another person’s property begins. Then you have situations where people claim that they got their property (with the property lines that they claim) by adverse possession, while the property owner next door disagrees. Fights over who actually owns specific pieces of property are common, and often lead to real estate litigation.
When Reviewing A Real Estate Case, What Are The Steps Leading Up To The Decision To Go To Court, Or To Litigate?
For these sorts of cases, the decision to litigate is primarily about how much is at stake.
Let me give you an example. Relatively recently, I had a case where a small piece of land was in dispute. One side (let’s call them Side A) was using the land; specifically, they needed it in order to access to their property. The other side (let’s call them Side B) technically owned the access way as part of a larger parcel of land. They wanted to sell the larger parcel of land that the access way was a small part of. Specifically, they wanted to sell the parcel of land as a whole piece, including and not exclusive of the access way.
In this case, it was crucial for Side A to go to court and litigate this matter, because the stakes for them were very high. Without that small access way, Side A’s property became much less valuable and much less useful.
Ultimately, the matter was settled by Side A agreeing to purchase the entire parcel of land that Side B wanted to sell, including but not limited to the access way. In purchasing the entire parcel, Side A was able to continue gaining access to their property by using the access way.
In these cases, the chain of title and what the deeds say are of utmost importance. This is one reason why the aforementioned case settled the way that it did.
As A Real Estate Litigation Attorney, What Evidence Or Information Helps You Prove Either Side Of Real Estate Litigation Cases?
There are a number of important pieces of evidence or information that helps me build a real estate litigation case.
Some of the most important pieces of information/evidence include deeds and the chain of title for deeds that go before you. In these cases, it is sometimes necessary to show what the client purchased and what was owned by who.
Often, these disputes result from situations where there was one large property that someone owned at one point in time, which was then subdivided. In order to resolve the dispute, you therefore have to go back to the original arrangement (i.e., when there was one property). In those cases, you often have a legal description in your deed, and you need a surveyor to go and physically map out what each person’s legal description consists of. This sort of mapping is often necessary to see how all the pieces fit together.
Do Disputes Over Property Ownership Only Happen Between Homeowners?
No, these issues are not necessarily restricted to homeowners. For instance, the case I mentioned above with the dispute over the access way was a commercial case. Side A had a business located in a building on their property. They needed access to the back side of the building so that deliveries could be made and trucks could be loaded up with product. They were only able to access the back side of the building through the disputed access way. Side B was trying to sell the access way as part of their larger parcel of adjacent land.
So, these matters are not simply restricted to two homeowners fighting over who owns the road or the bushes between their properties. That can happen sometimes, but it’s not the only type of dispute of this sort that happens.
I had another case where there were two adjacent property owners with a billboard between them. One property owner (let’s call him PO1) claimed for various reasons that the billboard belonged to him. The other property owner (let’s call him PO2) claimed for various reasons that the billboard belonged to him and did not belong to PO1. To settle this case, I went and looked at the deeds, looking for what is incorporated in the deeds and what is stated in the legal descriptions of the deeds.
Generally, I think it’s a mistake to just say that only homeowners having these kinds of disputes, because commercial property owners also find themselves disputing these issues.
Am I Legally Allowed To Put Up A Barrier Between My Business And A Neighboring Business? If So, Who Is Responsible For Maintaining The Barrier And Repairing Any Damages?
So long as the barrier is technically on your property, you can do whatever you like. If you build a barrier on your property, the responsibility for maintaining and repairing damages to the barrier falls on you.
If you put a barrier up on your neighbor’s property without permission, you may run into issues with legality. However, in some cases, neighbors will consent to having you put up a barrier that technically falls on their property. If that is the case, you may still be able to put up a legal barrier that technically falls on your neighbor’s property.
What Are The Non-Litigation Alternatives To Solving Property Line Disputes? Is It Always Worth It To Take A Case All The Way To Trial, Or Are There Methods That Are Potentially More Cost Effective?
It is always recommended to at least try to work out a settlement in advance of a lawsuit, as an alternative to going through the entire litigation process.
Unfortunately, the available avenues for solving property line disputes outside of litigation are not always as effective as you might want them to be. Most people approach pre-litigation settlement convinced of their own argument for why the other side should settle. While is true that most property line dispute cases settle before litigation and never go to trial, they don’t usually settle as quickly or easily as either side imagines they ought to.
To play armchair psychologist for a moment, the reason this happens so often may have to do with how people relate to these matters generally. Specifically, I believe that it happens in large part because the parties themselves aren’t ready to compromise on the facts necessary to work out a settlement.
No matter what side they are on, all parties in these matters tend to initially approach their case believing that they are 100% right. It takes some time for both parties to understand or at least accede to the possibility that they aren’t 100% right and it isn’t 100% guaranteed that they are going to win no matter what.
Settling a case without litigation requires one or both parties to realize that they are going to have to make some concessions and/or sacrifices in order to end the dispute. Compromise, and therefore pre-litigation settlement, is only possible if this realization takes place.
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