Boundaries are where two property lines meet. The law relies on the legal description of property in a deed, generated by a survey, to determine boundaries between properties.
California law assumes that a fence constructed on a boundary benefits both property owners; therefore, both are responsible for the care and maintenance of the fence. One neighbor choosing to build a fence is required to provide details about the need for and design and placement of the fence, and must notify the adjacent property owners at least 30 days prior to beginning construction.
Common Easement Disputes
An easement holder may allege that the use of the easement by someone else constitutes trespassing; however, while the holder has the limited right to use the land, they do not own the land. As such, trespassing could only be alleged by the property owner, not the easement holder.
The easement holder could allege interference if, for example, the property owner constructed a locked gate across the easement, interfering with the holder’s access to it. Interference by the landowner is a form of trespass against the easement holder.
Easements affected by zoning regulations may also be the subject of dispute by property owners and government. For example, the city could zone a conservation space on an owner’s property which would prohibit the property owner from building on the site.
Common Boundary Disputes
Fence disputes between property owners are common, especially when one neighbor constructs one to annoy the other. In California, if a neighbor constructs a fence 10 feet high or taller, you may be able to file a private nuisance suit against them.
Property line disputes arise when owners on either side disagree about the location of the property line. Disputes might also arise when one neighbor files an adverse possession case against the other, alleging that their continued maintenance of the property over a period of time gives them an interest in the property.
In California, tree trimming is often the basis for a dispute. While the owner of a property can trim the branches of a neighbor’s tree which protrude over the boundary, they may not do anything that will harm or kill the tree.
Of course, parties may use California courts to resolve disputes. If the monetary value of a claim is less than $10,000 for individuals or $5,000 for businesses, a case may be filed in small claims court. If the value exceeds those thresholds, the case should be filed with the superior court.
Disputes may also be resolved without going to court. Neighbors might agree to have a survey done to confirm the location of boundaries. Hiring an easement and boundary attorney to attempt to negotiate a resolution of the dispute could offer an opportunity to avoid filing a lawsuit.