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Neighbor disputes have more potential causes than you thought

You've heard plenty about people getting into heated disputes with their neighbors. You've even heard about physical confrontations. They often stem from a simple dispute: Claiming that a neighbor put up a new deck on your property, for instance.

You think these cases are interesting, but you do not think they'll ever be a problem for you. You know exactly where the property line is. In all of these cases, you keep hearing about how confusion over where the line sits makes two people think they both own the same land. You're sure you won't have that problem.

It is a good start. But do not assume it means you will never have a dispute with your neighbor. These disputes have more causes than you realize, and it could happen to you. Below are a few examples:

1. Trees

Trees are a big issue. When you moved it, maybe a tree was small or well-kept. It clearly sat on your neighbor's land. As it grew, though, it started leaning over the fence and over your land. You worry that it may fall. It definitely drops a lot of leaves on your property, that you have to clean up. Your neighbor never trims it anymore, and the wild branches could even damage the fence.

Do you own the portion of the tree that encroaches on your land? Can you trim that tree yourself? How do you get your neighbor to remove it before it falls on your house?

2. Fence height

The fence sits in exactly the right place on your neighbor's property. It does not encroach on your land. However, you think it is too high. You know the city has regulations. How high can it be? If it really does surpass the regulations, how do you get your neighbor to lower it? Do you have any legal say regarding a fence that does not enter your property, or does the city?

3. Construction mistakes

Your neighbor loves Do-It-Yourself jobs, but that does not mean he or she is cut out for them. Mistakes are common. You often sit in your back yard and watch the progress, shaking your head and wishing your neighbor would call in a professional.

What do you do when it impacts your land? For instance, one notorious case involved a man who filled a drainage ditch in with cement. Water had nowhere to go and started overflowing onto property owned by his neighbor. Even if your neighbor only does work on his or her land, is that work going to damage your property in some way? What can you do about it?

As you ask yourself all of these questions, make sure you know what legal options you have.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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