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Heather Jones

Do you suspect a property line encroachment? Navigating boundary disputes requires a solid grasp of property line encroachment laws. To address encroachment in Indiana, begin by verifying the encroachment with a professional land survey and then consult with a real estate attorney to explore your options. If an informal approach to resolve the issue with your neighbor fails, a formal demand letter may be necessary, and as a last resort, filing a lawsuit could be considered to protect your property rights.Read on to find out more about encroachment and your Indiana property rights.  

What Is Encroachment?


In this context, encroachment is when your neighbor somehow comes over past the property line and onto your property. Encroachment can be a fence that extends over the property line, an actual building or addition that extends over the property line, or even overgrown landscaping on your property.   Encroachments can take many forms and can have serious consequences for property owners. Some common types of encroachments include:

  • Physical structures, such as fences, buildings, or driveways, that extend beyond the property line
  • Landscaping or gardens that spill over onto a neighbor’s property
  • Trees or branches that hang over a neighbor’s property
  • Noise or other disturbances that affect a neighbor’s enjoyment of their property

It is important for property owners to be aware of these potential encroachments and take steps to address them. This may involve communicating with neighbors, seeking legal advice, or taking legal action to protect your property rights. By understanding the different forms of encroachments and their potential consequences, you can better preserve your property and maintain a peaceful neighborhood.

Legal action for property encroachment


What Should You Do About Encroachment?


The first step is always getting the most recent and reliable information proving that your neighbor is over the property line. Failing to be one hundred percent certain that the neighbor is over the property line before saying something can only cause bad feelings and potentially damage your relationship with your neighbor. Remember, you bought this property, and there is no telling how long the neighbor will be there, so you want to keep things as cordial as possible for as long as possible in order to make your life easier.  


The best source for a property line map is the county assessor and possibly the office of the recorder of deeds. Not only will they be able to provide you with a plat map to refer to, but the office of the recorder of deed can provide the history of the land you have purchased and any changes to property lines over the years. You will also be able to compare your neighbor’s plat to yours, just in case there has been an ongoing encroachment that no one said anything about.  

Conducting a Professional Land Survey

When faced with a potential encroachment, a professional land survey is your best defense. Licensed land surveyors serve as legal arbitrators, providing the evidence needed to support your case in court. They use state-of-the-art technology to ensure precise measurements, whether defining property lines or aiding in land development. Their expertise is invaluable not just for zoning purposes but also during property transactions, aiding in early identification of encroachments.

Choosing the right surveyor is just as important as the survey itself. With their tailored approach, they can establish the exact boundaries of your property, creating a survey that stands as legal evidence. Assessing their experience and confirming their use of contemporary technology is fundamental to forestall any future disputes related to your property.


The next step is to evaluate just what is over the property line and by how far. IT would not be a bad idea to get an independent take on the situation. Hire a surveyor to check the property lines and then check their readings against the documents you have already procured. If you find an encroachment, this would be the time to consult with a real estate attorney who can assist you if necessary.  


neighbors fighting about encroachment

What are the Next Steps?


So there is a verified encroachment, and your neighbor is probably already suspicious about the people hanging out on the property line (if it is visible from the house). After consulting with an attorney, this may be the time to approach your neighbor about the issue informally. Try to do it in a way that is as nonthreatening as possible. Do not tell your neighbor that you have spoken with an attorney; it will only upset them. It is up to you how you decide to have this conversation. If it is face-to-face, try to have at least one other person with you who can serve as a witness. Otherwise, a written inquiry may be the best approach if you have your neighbor’s phone number or email. Be specific about the encroachment. If it is just some shrubs or a tree, it will be easier to deal with than a building or a fence. Communicate to your neighbor that you want to get this fixed between the two of you and see if they are open to it.  


Neighbor Won’t Cooperate with Removing Encroachment


So your neighbor has either ignored you on the issue or basically told you to talk a long walk off a short pier. Either way, it is time to take more forceful action. First, contact your attorney and let them know the result of your overtures. Then, your attorney can evaluate whatever the actual encroachment is and draft a demand letter that offers your neighbor a way to resolve this peacefully without resulting in legal action being taken in a court of law. There are several options possible to resolve it. It could be as simple as removing a fence or tree branches. On the other hand, if your neighbor has an addition or outbuilding on your property, they will give you a hard time about moving it, even when the law is on your side. The issue is usually money, and the neighbors won’t want to alter their home or pay to have something moved. Some people refer to the demand letter as a property encroachment letter, but the result is the same, it is your formal way of saying this problem needs to be dealt with because the neighbor is breaking the law.  


Now is the time to evaluate what this will all cost you. Are you willing to take this matter through to the very end, possibly spending a great deal of money in an attempt to get your neighbor to move his property off of yours? That boils down to the size and nature of the encroachment, and your attorney can tell you if you have a good case and if the state law supports your claims.  

File a Lawsuit


If your attorney thinks you have a strong case and are willing to move forward, you can petition the court for relief by filing a lawsuit. You should be aware of any possible easements or the potential that the neighbor has somehow acquired the additional property through adverse possession. If you are going to start a lawsuit with your neighbor, you want to be as certain as possible that you are on the right side of the law.  


Fighting with your neighbor can be incredibly draining. You have a dispute with this persona, and they are always around. There is no escaping them. As explained above, do your best to try and resolve the issue peacefully so that everyone involved can quietly enjoy their homes without any negative feelings or daily spats. Unfortunately, feuding with neighbors is a very common problem. People have even installed security cameras to show some of the nasty tactics their neighbors will employ to try and make things worse. If you are feuding with a neighbor about encroachment or other invasions on your privacy and property, feel free to call O’Flaherty Law; we would be happy to help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you resolve encroachment issues?

To resolve encroachment issues, start by discussing the matter with your neighbor to find a mutual solution. If that fails, consider selling the encroached property or pursuing legal action as a last resort.

How close to my property line can my neighbor build?

The setback for buildings from the property line varies by state and county regulations. Generally, front setbacks are 10 feet, side setbacks are four feet, and back setbacks are 10 feet.

What is an example of encroachment?

Encroachment can include a neighbor building a fence that extends onto your land, a structural addition to their home that goes beyond legal boundaries, or landscaping that crosses onto your property. Be aware of these examples to identify encroachment.

Can I resolve property line disputes without going to court?

Yes, you can often resolve property line disputes amicably by discussing the issue with your neighbor or seeking mediation, without involving the court system.

What is the role of a professional land survey in encroachment disputes?

A professional land survey accurately determines property boundaries and serves as legal evidence in court in encroachment disputes.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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