Robert Frost famously said “Good fences make good neighbors.” But that’s only true if the location of the fence is correct. Disputes over property boundaries and access to property are far more common in Maryland than most people realize.
Property disputes can cause strained relations, but they also put substantial property rights at risk. A consultation with a lawyer experienced in handling property disputes can help you understand your options for resolving disputes before they become a costly nightmare.
Road Rights are Not Always Clear
Many current roads in Maryland are based on colonial rolling roads and native American trails that followed paths made by animals looking for sources of food and water. Many of the old roads were abandoned over time. Others developed from a cow path or driveway into a busy suburban traffic route. Either change can substantially affect the access to certain pieces of property.
Some people find themselves holding “landlocked” property with no legal right of access to a public road. A property attorney can often help landowners negotiate legal right-of- way to property so that it can be used or sold. If it is not possible to negotiate a resolution, filing an action in court can solve the access problem, although it is sometimes necessary to join the state in the action.
What Happens When a Fence is on the Wrong Side of the Boundary Line?
While most fences in Maryland are not as old as many of the roads, they frequently mark a long-standing boundary between two properties. When a fence is in place for a long time, people tend to accept it as the dividing line between properties, but the problem is that any fence may be out of alignment with the property line, sometimes deliberately so.
When years pass with this situation, people often think they own property that actually belongs to their neighbor. They may take care of that property and build on it. Then if a problem arises or a new neighbor moves in, someone may finally have a survey drawn that reveals the discrepancy. Again, a property attorney could negotiate a resolution to the issues between neighbors, but if one side refuses to compromise, the dispute heads to court.
In some cases, the property owner with a survey showing that property should belong to them are surprised when their neighbor’s attorney argues the doctrine of adverse possession and persuades the court that the disputed property now belongs to the property owner who cared for it for decades, even if they didn’t have “official” ownership.
Other property lines disputes may involve permit requirements, setbacks, visibility problems, and other issues. Working with an experienced property disputes attorney early on can help everybody understand their rights so they can formulate a solution before a simple disagreement becomes an all-out land war.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Property Attorney in the Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., PC
Whether you just have questions about your legal rights and how to gain lawful access to your property or you are in the midst of an ugly dispute over the ownership or use of property, the experienced team in the Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., PC is ready to help. We provide advice and representation to help Maryland landowners with a wide variety of issues, always trying to conserve both your costs and your time. Talk to us today to learn more about how we could assist.