Boundaries matter when you buy or sell a home. You want to be confident that you know things like where the boundary lines are and whether natural or manufactured objects are part of the property. However, issues can arise that can create confusion, and resolving these before selling or buying a home will be crucial.
Pay attention to boundary markers and lines when looking at a home. Are there features like trees, water or other natural elements that are supposed to mark boundaries? If so, know that they may have grown or shifted in ways that affect their accuracy.
If there are fences, it can be wise to compare their placement with the property lines. In some cases, old neighbours or previous owners may have put a fence up on land that was not legally theirs.
To be sure you know where the property lines are, consider hiring a land surveyor or obtaining property plans or titles.
Encroachment and intrusions
Natural elements like trees or shrubs may have roots on one property but grow over property lines. Buildings, powerlines and stairs could also extend onto someone else’s property.
When natural or man-made objects with a fixed location on the ground or attached to something with a fixed location crosses over property lines, they could be encroachments or intrusions. Without a valid agreement or consent letter, parties may need to (or have the right to) remove the object in question.
An easement is essentially an allowance for one party to use another person’s property for a special purpose lawfully. Some common reasons for parties to have or want an easement include the following:
- Having better access to their property
- Protecting drainage
- Wanting access to light sources that were previously accessible to them
- Needing access to utilities
- Parking requirements
For these reasons, property owners may have created easements. You should know if these exist and, if they do, whether they are valid arrangements and what they mean.
Get the lay of the land
Selling or buying a home could be the most significant transaction you are part of, and you should know what is at stake. If there are any hesitations or questions about boundary lines, land use or property rights, it can be crucial to address them before signing off on anything.