Are you thinking about building a fence? Planting a tree or two? About to sell your home? There are many reasons to all of a sudden make you realize you need to know your property line, but knowing it’s location of your property lines is a necessity as a homeowner. Not only to avoid legal disputes (knock on wood) but this knowledge also helps when augmenting your property with elements like pools, decks, playgrounds, trees or hedges and of course (and probably MOST importantly, but we’re) a new fence. Property lines, or boundary lines, are simply defined as points where one person’s land ends and the neighboring lands begin. A property owner uses boundary lines to determine where to legally place desired items. Erecting any structure, such as a fence, or using a part of another person’s land can lead to lawsuits and unpleasant situations with neighbors.
Protect yourself by knowing your property lines with these tips:
1. Check the official website for the assessor’s office in your municipality.
Some assessors have mapping tools available online – here it is for Kent County for all of the real estate in the area. Use the maps to find the boundary lines for your property and to determine where nearby landmarks are located, such as the line of your street. The landmarks are fixed points that you can use to measure from. Using a tape measure, measure the distance from each of the landmark points to your property line as shown on the maps.
2. Check your deed.
The deed contains a description of your property’s measurements and boundaries in words. Measure from the landmarks in the description to the property lines. Mark each corner with a stake or other marker. Measure from each stake to the next all the way around your property to ensure the measured lines match the deed. Physically measuring the boundaries will allow you to visually determine where the lines are and avoid encroaching on your neighbor’s land.
3. Visit the county recorder’s office or the assessor’s office.
Ask what maps are available for public viewing that include your neighborhood and street. Request a copy of any maps that show clear dimensions of your property lines. Use the maps for reference when measuring your property’s total boundary line on each side.
4. Look at your property survey.
The survey is a document with a rendering of the property lines and measurements, and should have been given to you when you bought your home. The distance from your house to the property line and the street should be shown on the survey. Use the measurements and details about surrounding landmarks to visually determine the property lines and avoid land disputes with neighbors.
5. Hire a surveyor if you do not have a survey.
A surveyor is a professional who can measure and map the property lines for you. The surveyor will mark the lines at the corners with stakes. Be present when the surveyor comes to measure your property, so he can point out where the property lines are. The cost of a survey varies depending on your location, property value and lot size.
There are multiple ways to assess your property line, and saves a lot of time when you’re thinking of installing a new fence. If you have questions, or need guidance, feel free to give us a call.