Clients sometimes come to us with disputes regarding real estate litigation matters involving boundary line and easement encroachments. We provide legal advice and counsel, trying to balance your real estate rights with neighborly harmony, always looking to avoid a lawsuit when possible.
Easements provide a broad range of legal rights and obligations. In a fairly recent Virginia Supreme Court case, Snead v. C&S Properties Holding Company, a landowner blocked access to a validly recorded easement. The easement holder filed a lawsuit, asking the court to order the obstruction removed. The Virginia Supreme Court ordered the fence removed, concluding that “a significant portion of the easement would be rendered unusable for ingress and egress if injunctive relief were denied.”
In our representation of homeowner associations, we have had many cases involving an owner encroaching upon common area. Sometimes homeowners treat the common area as their own, rather than recognizing that common area is owned by all the homeowners in common.
Recently, in one of our associations, a homeowner obtained HOA permission to install a fence on his back boundary line. Instead, the homeowner constructed the fence in the common area, property owned by the HOA. Despite numerous requests, the homeowner refused to relocate the fence to his property. The HOA had no alternative but to file a lawsuit. Fortunately, the owner’s attorney prevailed upon his client to relocate the fence without the association incurring substantial legal fees.
Many of us have easements on our properties, including utility easements. You need to be aware of all the encumbrances on your real estate, and the location of your boundary lines. If you have any questions about encroachments on your property, or on common area in an HOA, you should contact an attorney experienced in real estate litigation to inform you of your rights.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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