California landowners do not always know exactly where their property boundaries are, especially if a piece of land has an old deed and no fence. When two or more neighbors have different ideas about where a property line is, a boundary dispute could arise.
Boundary disputes may be avoided if people obtain an accurate survey at the time that they purchase a piece of property. A survey should also be done before a fence is built so that it can be built right along the property line. Some older property deeds will contain descriptions of property boundaries that have become obsolete over time. For example, an older deed may use a stream that no longer exists as a reference point.
If a survey does not resolve a boundary dispute, a landowner may have to file a quiet title lawsuit and ask a judge to determine where the boundary line is. This type of litigation can be more expensive than a survey or an out-of-court agreement. If a landowner can reach an agreement with a neighbor about where a boundary line is, both neighbors can sign a quitclaim deed to each other. Neighbors may reach an agreement like this by constructing a fence and agreeing that the fence is the boundary line.
A person who is involved in a neighbor dispute over a property line may want to be represented by an attorney at negotiations. An attorney may be able to help a property owner to obtain a survey and take legal action if neighbors are not honoring the boundary line. If a deed is old and imprecise, an attorney may help a property owner to negotiate an agreement with neighbors about the property line.