It may seem that a boundary dispute between you and an adjacent property owner in California arises quickly. However, according to Point to Point Land Surveyors, boundary disputes can be years, and sometimes centuries, in the making.
Sometimes a boundary dispute arises because of the carelessness of one of the landowners. Without checking the legal boundaries first, another property owner may mistakenly build on your land, thinking it is his or her own. If there is not a physical boundary marker between the two properties, this becomes an even easier mistake to make. Having a land survey done prior to any construction decreases the likelihood of this type of dispute arising.
At other times, two different landowners lay claim to the same property because of faulty legal descriptions. This can occur when people without the necessary qualifications write the description and/or survey the land. As a result, the wording of the legal descriptions may be ambiguous or confusing. It has also occurred, especially in the pre-Revolutionary days of the country, because European officials were the ones granting land rights. These officials had often never set foot on the continent and had only inaccurate maps from which to work.
Faulty legal descriptions may lead to an adjacent property owner building on your land without realizing it. Other such encroachments are intentional. If you feel that a violation of your boundaries has taken place, you should take steps to resolve the matter as soon as possible. Otherwise, adverse possession can result, in which case a long-established occupation may take precedence over a legal title. Also, there is a risk that a court may confirm that the encroacher upon your land is entitled to an "equitable easement," pursuant to which you could lose some of your rights as the landowner.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.