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Is your neighbor taking up more room than he or she owns?

Your spouse, children or pets may often take up some of your side of the bed. In fact, you may not mind it because you love them.

However, when you find out that your neighbor is taking up part of your land, you may not be quite so accommodating. You may like your neighbor, but not enough to give him or her part of your property. Even if it happens due to a misunderstanding of the property lines, that does not necessarily mean you have to agree with it.

It's called encroachment

When your neighbor built that porch, shed, garage or other structure on, or partly on, your land, it constitutes encroachment. You may consider not saying anything about it, but if you ever plan to sell your property, it could cause problems. You could attempt to come to an agreement with your neighbor. If the structure doesn't come down, your neighbor could buy the land it sits on from you. This would provide a quick and easy resolution.

However, if your neighbor believes the structure is on his or her property, you may need to obtain a survey to determine once and for all what land belongs to each of you. If the survey comes back verifying your contentions, then you could once again attempt to negotiate a reasonable settlement. If that doesn't work, you may need to take further and more formal action.

If you do end up going to court and requesting the court order the removal of the structure or compensation for the land you lose, you will need to have the ability to prove your ownership and that your neighbor does not have the legal right to be on the property. In taking this course of action, you will probably lose any goodwill with your neighbor, but by this point, that may be gone already.

Don't go it alone

Dealing with an encroachment can cause a substantial amount of stress for everyone involved. Once you realize that your friendly negotiations aren't going anywhere, you may find it useful to involve a Florida real estate attorney. Not only will his or her knowledge and experience benefit your position, but it also keeps you from having to deal directly with your neighbor in what could easily become a volatile situation.

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