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How to talk to your neighbor about a boundary issue

Your neighbor puts up a new porch on the back of their house, and you can't help but feel like something is a little off. You take a closer look and you realize what it is: The porch crosses the property line. The corner of it is sitting on your land.

Now what? How do you proceed?

First and foremost, make absolutely sure that you know right where the line lies. You may need to find the official documentation or have a survey done. You do not want to approach your neighbor and start a disagreement, only to find out later that you were wrong about the line and the porch is on their land. Double-check before you say anything.

Then, when you do have that talk, assume it was an innocent mistake. Your neighbor just didn't know where the line was. They didn't mean to use your land and they'll be happy to rectify it.

This approach keeps things civil and helps avoid an escalation. Even if you know you're right, being aggressive and angry about it just makes things worse. There's a very good chance it was an accident, and you can work together to find a solution.

Of course, that's in a perfect world. In the real world, we know that things are not always so easy. If your neighbor disputes your claim or refuses to make the necessary changes, then it may be time to take legal action. These types of real estate disputes can be very complex, so make sure you know what steps to take.

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