When your neighbor plants a shrub right on the property line or builds a fence that encroaches on your property, you may feel angry and also worried. The anger you feel likely comes from the disrespect implicit in planting or building so close to your property line. It may also be due to the potential loss of your ownership interest due to the actions of your neighbor.
Knowing and enforcing your boundaries when a neighbor wants to make improvements can help you avoid headaches like these, but your neighbors may not consult with you before planting a line of bushes or installing a fence. Some people just come home from work to discover their neighbor’s most recent attempt at home improvement encroaching on their property.
New York residents will want to protect their homes, which is often their biggest investment. While you may want to take action and have your neighbor relocate an improperly positioned fence, you don’t have to worry about a minor incursion on your property affecting your ownership rights.
New York adverse possession law does not apply to minor incursions
The term adverse possession is the legal phrase for what many people commonly referred to as squatter’s rights. In an adverse possession case, someone who has never owned or paid for a property will begin living there or using the property for their own purposes. After a certain amount of time, which varies based on the jurisdiction, the person who is illegally using the land can then file a claim to assume ownership of the property. The original owner has the right to defend against such a claim.
Many times, taking steps to address the incursion or use of their property is all the defense a property owner facing such unscrupulous actions needs. Other times, the issue can play out as a protracted court case involving evidence of use and even claims about who paid for taxes or maintained the basic facilities.
Although in some states, minor incursions on to a neighbor’s property through the violation of a boundary could lead to adverse possession claims, the same is not true in New York. New York’s adverse possession law will not allow your neighbor to change the boundary lines of your property just because you allow an improperly placed fence to stand.