If you own land that you do not frequently visit, it may be a while before you notice that a neighbor has constructed a driveway across a portion of your property. This is a form of encroachment, something that occurs when someone builds a structure on someone else’s land. This development may trouble you and you wonder what you should do next.
Different types of land disputes often become heated or drag out for months in court. Fortunately, it is not inevitable that you will experience a bad outcome if you want to resolve the issue. SFGate explains some ways landowners can handle a driveway encroachment.
Hire a surveyor
First, you should be certain that the driveway is actually on your land. It is possible that you have misjudged the boundary lines, especially if the driveway seems to be near the edge of your property. Consider hiring a professional land surveyor to check your land’s boundaries. The surveyor should provide the results to you and the other property owner so both sides feel certain of fair treatment.
Negotiate an easement
If a land survey establishes that the driveway is on your land after all, you might be able to work out an agreement with the other property owner to, for instance, use your land in exchange for a fee. Depending on the other terms of the agreement, this may result in granting the user a “lease,” “license” or “easement” to continue using that area of your land.
If you do not want the driveway on your land, you may tell the other owner to remove it. The other owner may be willing to do so but, if not, you have a right to begin legal action. Perhaps writing a letter to the owner describing the findings of the land surveyor and the need to remove the driveway within a specified period of time. An attorney with knowledge in real estate can help with this and provide guidance as to the letter’s content. If this does not work, litigation may be the next step.
However, filing a lawsuit in court is not always necessary. Sometimes an alternative dispute resolution option, such as mediation, is a good way to resolve the matter. With mediation, a neutral third-party known as a mediator helps the parties come to a mutual agreement outside of court. It is often less intense and more affordable than litigation.