Property Line Determination

When buying a home, part of the process involves receiving survey information about the boundary lines of the property. However, living on the property often can present less clear visions of property lines.

Among the issues that homeowners regularly face concern whether their fence, or a neighbor’s fence, is on the correct side of the property line; how far from the center line of the street is their property; and whether additions to the house—or added structures such as sheds—are the proper distance from the property line.

Fences and centerlines of the streets often provide a general idea of the location of a property line. However, they are not always accurate indicators. Fences sometimes are located on property lines, but they may have been erected well inside the line by the previous owner with the thought that it would make maintaining both sides of the fence easier. Sometimes property owners assume (incorrectly) that their lines extend to the same distance as their next-door neighbor’s line. On occasion, property lines are not straight. Lines on an arc can be hard to define.

Properties that border park or government lands also can present situations that are not correctly interpreted by homeowners. Some homeowners assume that since the adjacent park land will not be developed, it is okay to extend fences, or erect sheds, on that land. This assumption could lead to serious consequences for homeowners.

Homeowners whose fences are well within their boundary line must realize they are still responsible for their entire property, such as the maintenance of trees that are outside the fence but on their property.

Knowing the boundary lines of your property could help you avoid: 1) Being forced to alter or remove structures that extend over the property line; 2) Fines; 3) Lawsuits.