Adverse Possession & Boundary Disputes

Adverse Possession & Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes are commonly thought of as part of the realm of residential real estate, but they’re every bit as common in commercial real estate. Many, if not most, commercial real estate boundary disputes involve access to buildings, such as driveways, parking lots or sidewalks. If a landowner owns a driveway that other buildings must use for access, problems could arise and result in a lawsuit.

Improvements, Especially to Common Areas

Property improvements can also cause problems. If one building owner creates an addition that extends over a property line, a lawsuit might be the only remedial option. This is especially true with common areas that both owners enjoy, yet only one holds title for it.

Adverse Possession

In Texas, property owners must also consider adverse possession comes, which is more commonly referred to as squatter’s rights. Texas statutes allow the non-owner of property (legally referred to as the trespasser) who has used a portion of their neighboring property to gain legal title over it. Even if the owner has a deed or conveyance indicating that they are the owner, adverse possession could mean losing ownership of that portion of the property.

Adverse possession statutes compel the owner, who’s been neglectful of that piece of property, to forego ownership if the trespasser will undergo hardship if prevented from using it. The burden of proof is held by the trespasser to prove their claim of adverse possession. The trespasser cannot bring a claim of adverse possession until they’ve utilized the property in question for a certain amount of time. There are three (3) statutes in Texas regarding adverse possession, with each having different statutes of limitations: three, five or ten years.

Ways to Prevent Property Disputes

If you’re looking at purchasing a piece of commercial real estate, have the property surveyed. If one’s already been conducted, have it evaluated and updated by your own expert. Also, make sure property lines are clearly marked with a fence or with brightly lined markings.

In many states, the statute of limitations regarding commercial property disputes is twenty (20) years. In Texas, however, it’s far more complicated. That’s why it’s best to secure the services of attorneys experienced in commercial real estate.

If you have questions about commercial real estate boundary disputes, contact the skilled and highly experienced commercial real estate attorneys at Bennett Weston LaJone & Turner, P.C.

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