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Common causes of property boundary disputes

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Real Estate

Property boundary disputes commonly cause conflict between landowners, neighbors and even businesses. The disputes occur for several reasons. A truly significant or contentious dispute could wind up in court, which may ruin or strain prior relationships.

Understanding the common causes of property boundary disputes can help you avoid or resolve these situations quickly, should they arise.

Unclear property documentation

One of the main causes of boundary disputes is unclear or outdated property documentation. Inaccurate land surveys, vague property descriptions and conflicting deeds can lead to confusion about a property’s exact boundaries.


Encroachments occur when property owners build structures or plant trees that extend beyond their property line and onto neighboring land. This can happen unintentionally or deliberately, leading to land use and ownership disputes.

Adverse possession

Adverse possession occurs when a person openly occupies and uses land without the owner’s permission for a certain period, typically many years. In some cases, this can result in the trespasser gaining legal property ownership, sparking disputes between the adverse possessor and the original owner.

Fence and boundary disputes

Fences are often erected to delineate property boundaries, but disagreements can arise over the location of the fence line. Disputes may arise if a fence is built in the wrong location, is damaged or if one party believes it encroaches on their land.

Changes in natural features

Natural changes to the landscape can alter property boundaries over time. These changes may not be reflected in existing property documents, leading to disputes over ownership and land use rights.

Miscommunication or misunderstanding

Poor communication between neighboring property owners or errors in interpreting property documents can contribute to boundary disputes. Misunderstandings regarding verbal agreements, historical use of land or shared boundaries can escalate into legal conflicts.

Property boundary disputes can be complex and contentious, often requiring legal intervention. By addressing common causes, property owners can work to prevent conflicts and maintain positive relationships with their neighbors, when possible.