When you find a home that meets your needs, the amount of land the property covers is naturally of your concern. This important information will clarify your limits and give you guidance on where you can or cannot build upon your property. The same will apply to your neighbors.
In this article you will learn about property lines, their importance, how to find them, and some more questions related to this topic.
What is a property line?
Also called the boundary line, it is the line that distinguishes your property from your neighbors' properties. It legally determines where your land ends and another begins.
These boundaries are usually established by land surveys and legal descriptions, which are documented in property deeds. The property line at the front of your house is known as your frontage, and the property lines on the side of your plot are known as sidelines.
Why is the property line so important?
Knowing where your property lines lay is important so that you can correctly identify what is and is not your property. Within your property lines, you can do almost anything you like, within regulation and barring any easements your property might have.
However, you are not allowed to do anything with the land that lay outside of your property lines. For this reason, knowing where your property lines are is very important.
How to find property lines?
We’re going to focus on the best, most reliable ways of determining where your property line is:
To find your property lines, you can look at your homeowner’s deed, as all of the information regarding your home should be there. On the deed, you should be able to find the size, shape, block and lot number of your property.
In other cases where, for whatever reason, the homeowner’s deed information is not satisfactory, you can hire a licensed land surveyor who will be able to give you precise information regarding the measurements and location of your property line.
Another option, especially if you prefer to do this research online, is to use a plat map provided by your local assessor’s office. A plat map is a map of a neighborhood or region which shows all of the plots of land in that region.
Each plot of land is given a number, and if you have a property in that region, you can find your property by identifying your plot number, which is in your homeowner’s deed.
You can search for survey pins which are often located at the corners of properties, but many times these pins are buried and not easy to find, unless you dig.
Digging, itself, can cause issues if there are easements in your backyard for utility companies. So, unless your survey pins are exposed and visible, we do not recommend this method.
Finally, while it is true that things like streetlights are often placed on property lines and that these can be used to get an idea of where they might be, we wouldn’t suggest this as a reliable way of determining your property lines.
How to Legally Determine Property Lines
To legally determine property line, you should hire a licensed land surveyor. If your issue is with a neighbor's encroachment on your property, then you will want to handle that sooner than later as, over time, this encroachment might justify an easement, which would give that neighbor the right to use that segment of your property.
How do I show property lines on Google Maps?
Firstly, it should be said that not all property lines will be visible on Google Maps, but, in cases where they are visible, all you need to do is put your address into Google Maps and zoom close enough to see the property lines.
Boundary Line Agreements
A boundary line agreement is an agreement between two adjacent landowners establishing a boundary between their properties. This is done in cases where the boundary line may not be obvious, or if there have been changes to the landscape since the establishment of the deed of either home. This agreement must be put in writing in order to be official.
How to Handle Disputes Over Property Lines?
The best way to clarify issues regarding property lines is to hire a licensed land surveyor. This professional will be able to tell you exactly where your property, and your neighbor’s property, begins and ends. If, after this has been clarified, there are still issues, you will want to hire a real estate attorney in order to protect yourself from the possibility of a prescriptive easement.
Can My Neighbor Build A Fence On The Property Line?
Yes, a neighbor can legally build a fence if he or she follows the local ordinances and notifies you in advance and you have had no objections. In some cases, the neighbor might ask you to pay half of the cost, if it is beneficial for both of you.
How close to the property line can I build?
You must check with your local zoning or building department, since this information depends on location. In general it can be anywhere from 5 to 15 feets depending on what you are constructing.
What can I do if my neighbor disputes the property line?
First of all, stay civil. Disagreements often happen and you don’t want to create a bad relationship with your neighbors. Have your deeds in hand and any other documents that describe where the property line is.
If this isn't enough, hire a licensed surveyor to assess your properties. If the disputes continue, you will probably have to hire a real estate lawyer.