Owning property in Washington can give you a lot of freedom and independence. However, property lines define where you can and cannot plant trees, build a shed or let your animals roam. When property lines are crossed, this can lead to a boundary dispute with your neighbors.
There are two main categories of boundary disputes: encroachment and trespassing. Both of these disputes can usually be settled with a talk, but the issues sometimes require legal action.
Encroachment occurs when something from your neighbor’s property extends over your property line. For example, your neighbor has a tree that is planted on their side but has grown branches that are hanging over your fence. Another example of encroachment is a shed that has an extending roof that hangs over your property line. A poorly planned fence may also encroach over a property line.
Trespassing is a boundary dispute that occurs when a neighbor occupies a piece of your property or uses a piece of your property without your permission. When there is no clear boundary line marked by a fence, trespassing could happen accidentally. In other cases, a neighbor may knowingly use a trail on your property without permission.
Settling boundary disputes
Some boundary disputes can be settled by having a simple conversation with your neighbors. Putting up “no trespassing” and “private property” signs, as well as fencing, may discourage encroachment and trespassing.
If your neighbors do not agree with you about where the property line is, you can conduct a title search and show them the report. A professional land surveyor may also be hired to accurately assess the property line. Testimony from a land surveyor may be used as evidence if a boundary dispute goes to court.