Most property owners are of the idea that if land is yours, you retain full rights to it. However, you may be surprised to learn this is not always the case.
In some instances, your neighbor may take over some of your property, with neither your knowledge nor consent.
The seven-year rule
As a home owner, you likely take appropriate steps to protect your property. You may build a fence to ward off trespassers, post warning signs or call the police when your attempts are not enough to keep others off your land. However, a neighbor may be able to gain possession of a part of your property over the course of seven years if he or she builds on it, farms on it or maintains it without argument from you.
For someone to validate an adverse possession, they would typically have to:
- Occupy some of your property (whether accidently or intentionally)
- Care for the property as if it is their own
- Have a clear sense of their control of the property
- Be the only one continually utilizing that property (for at least seven years)
To lay claim to your property, your neighbor would have to prove why he or she should be granted permissions to that land. Unfortunately, you could run into problems with adverse possession regardless of your neighbor’s intent or knowledge that he or she was infringing on your property.
It’s your investment – and you have rights
While many people make mistakes about property boundaries, correcting the error may prove difficult. Once you realize your neighbor is violating your property line, you may have to speak to them in effort to resolve the issue. If you find your neighbor is disagreeable and you cannot convince him or her to concede, you may consider getting help to protect your interests as well as your real estate investment.