Why New York property owners can’t ignore boundary issues

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Residential Real Estate

New York real property owners, especially residential property owners, may not think much about the physical “ground” plot or parcel that they purchase. After all, most residential parcels are only a fraction of an acre. The focus when buying a home is often on the condition of the property, its appearance and any recent improvements made to the property.

The buildings or improvements on a parcel are a major contributor to the overall value of a property. However, the land itself can also be exceptionally valuable, particularly in high-demand neighborhoods. Property owners, therefore, need to be proactive about responding to boundary disputes, especially if they lead to one neighbor infringing on the property of the other.

Why boundary disputes are a concern

When neighbors don’t agree about where the boundary between two properties falls, that can lead to major issues. Obviously, boundary disputes can add a lot of tension to neighborly relationships. Some people might ignore a fence placed over the boundary line or similar boundary violations in a desire to keep the peace.

What they fail to consider is how their inaction may negatively impact their property values later. Under New York law, someone who has taken adverse possession of another person’s real property can eventually ask the courts to make them the official owner of that property. If one party has consistently and openly possessed and used the property of another for 10 years or more, the party violating the property rights of the other owner could initiate adverse possession proceedings.

The New York courts might grant ownership of the contested portion of the property to the party overstepping the boundary between parcels. It is therefore important to verify boundaries when a dispute arises, possibly by working with a surveyor or reviewing title records. If a neighbor intends to build across the boundary, even if they only want to install a fence, legal action may be necessary to protect someone’s interest in their parcel and the overall value of the property that they own.

Being willing to fight back against boundary violations can protect owners from scenarios where real estate disputes could eventually culminate in lost property value. Real estate owners who understand New York law may have an easier time protecting their investments.