Boundary line disputes are very common in Southern California. The most common boundary disputes that Kendall Law sees are typically walls/fences that are discovered to be on someone’s property. These issues are usually discovered when one party is remodeling or changing the layout of their property.
Boundary litigation can be ugly, hard fought and bitter, so you’ll want to try to avoid this if you can. If you are able, try to work out a resolution with the neighbor. If you cannot agree to resolve the matter, then there are some factual distinctions to be analyzed to determine possible recourse.
To prevent or address a property line dispute with a neighbor, the best practice is to conduct a formal survey to establish clear boundary lines. Once a survey is done, this can confirm whether or not there is an encroachment into a neighbor’s property line. The next step is to determine whether the encroachment is permanent or temporary, which is a factual question made on a case-by-case determination.
A temporary encroachment is one that can be removed or only causes temporary injury. The remedy for a temporary encroachment is to have it removed and for an award of special damages for any injuries during the encroachment’s existence. You see this with fences.
The factors to be considered in whether or not to order the removal of a temporary encroachment is based on the “relative hardship doctrine” that focuses on (1) whether or not the encroacher was innocent, not willful; (2) if the plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury; and (3) hardship to the defendant if it is forced to remove the encroachment.
If an injunction to remove the encroachment is granted, the Court may also award special damages suffered during the existence of the encroachment. If the encroaching party is found to have willfully caused the encroachment or maliciously refused to remove the encroachment, the Court can award punitive damages.
A permanent encroachment is one that may not be readily remedied, removed, or abated at a reasonable expense. In the instance of a permanent encroachment, the related action would be a nuisance not a trespass and there’s a strict statute of limitations to bring such a claim which in California is five years. You see this with cases of garages or buildings that encroach onto another’s property.
The damages available for a permanent encroachment is usually measured by the diminution in value of the encroached upon property by the encroachment.
In some situations, boundary line/encroachment matters can be tendered to insurance and insurance would pick up the defense. However, you should still seek the advice of legal counsel who is equipped to handle these matters to find the best course of action for your situation.
If you’re currently dealing with a property line dispute, don’t wait any longer to protect your property rights. Contact our experienced real estate attorneys at Kendall Law today or call 310-619-4941 to schedule a consultation and get the legal support you need to resolve your dispute. We’re here to help you navigate the complex legal landscape of property line disputes and ensure that your property rights are protected.
Please note that the information provided at this website is intended for general educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice or a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.