Following are some basic steps to take if you encounter a boundary issue with your neighbor.
1. Identify the problem.
Common issues that lead to boundary disputes in Washington include:
- Encroachments, such as fences or buildings across the property line
- Trespasses, such as use of your property without your permission
- Easements, which are the limited rights to use another person’s property
- Excavation or heavy construction affecting the stability of your land
- Removal of trees
2. Determine how you would like to resolve the issue.
Depending on the circumstances, boundary disputes can be resolved in a number of ways:
- You can seek an injunction preventing your neighbor from continuing to use the property.
- You can seek monetary compensation for damage to your property, the decreased value of the property, or the value of trees that were removed.
- You can negotiate a compromise by which you are compensated for your neighbor’s continued trespass or encroachment on your property.
3. Talk to your neighbor before taking legal action.
Because boundary disputes are typically very personal, it’s a good idea to prepare what you’re going to say before you speak with your neighbor. In many cases, property owners hastily approach the situation, and the result is a shouting match that could have been avoided with some preparation.
While it may be possible to calmly communicate with your neighbor to reach a resolution, try not to put anything in writing — even a simple note or an email — without first consulting an attorney.
4. If you and your neighbor are unable to reach an amicable resolution, speak with an experienced real estate lawyer.
Washington law protects property owners from intentional and negligent trespassing, unauthorized tree removal, and removal of the lateral support of a home.
The real estate lawyers of Levy – von Beck & Associates handle these and other issues for residential and commercial property owners in Washington and Oregon. Please see our overview of real estate disputes to learn more.