Resolving Land Use Disputes Between Neighbors

Pleasant conversations with neighbors over the fence are what many people envision when they move into a new home. It can be disappointing when the reality is disputes over easements and land use instead. Although the landowner has legal claim to a property in his or her name, there are times when it's necessary to grant others the right to use the land. Misunderstandings between what the landowner actually granted and what the neighbor thinks is his or her right to the land can result in easement disputes.

Easement disputes often arise because a formal easement on a property doesn't change when it gets a new owner. This means anyone who buys a new property is obligated to honor the easement. It is therefore essential for someone who is considering making an offer on a house to request that his or her realtor perform an easement search. Ignorance of the existence of an easement is not a legal defense for refusing to honor it. People who do violate the terms of an easement may be liable for reimbursing expenses incurred by their neighbor as well as court sanctions.

Common Easement Disputes among Neighbors

The following types of easements may cause legal issues between neighbors:

Zoning and Land Use Problems

Disputes between neighbors aren't always limited to individual homeowners. It can also occur between businesses or a private homeowner and a business owner. Before any type of structure can be built, the owner must meet local zoning and land use ordinances. Common problems that arise in this situation include complaints that a proposed residential or commercial building doesn't meet local zoning laws or that the anticipated activities don't conform to current laws. A request for a zoning ordinance may be outright denied or granted only conditional approval if a neighbor successfully argues that it interferes with his or her rights.

Regardless of which side of a legal dispute a home or business owner is on, obtaining professional legal advice is the best course of action to resolve the issue.

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