That perfect dream home or promising investment property you’ve purchased can turn into a nightmare if a property dispute arises. Real estate disputes can cover a range of issues and have devastating consequences if not handled quickly and skillfully. Here are three common property disputes and what to do if you encounter them.
1. Boundary Line Disputes
Where does your property end and your neighbor’s begin? It’s common for property owners to disagree about this issue, particularly when there’s a fence, tree, or wall on the boundary line. If you’re in a boundary line dispute, compare property deeds with your neighbor. These documents should reflect the exact specifications of your land. If it’s still unclear, visit your local county recorder’s office and request a map of your property, which should indicate where your property ends. If the issue is still unresolved, you should hire a knowledgeable real estate lawyer before the situation gets out of control.
2. Title Issues
When you purchase property, you must make sure the title is clear and error-free. Among other things, you must be certain the presumed owner has the legal right to sell the property or know whether there are any liens, encroachments, or other encumbrances attached to the property. Before buying, do your research on the title at the country recorder’s office and check the authenticity of the documents.
If you discover a defect in the title or another issue that raises a question about the title, you should speak to an experienced property lawyer. In some instances, you may want to initiate a Quiet Title action. This action is a legal proceeding that determines who has a claim to ownership on a property. Anyone who has a potential claim to the property has the opportunity to present evidence of their ownership. If no one contests the suit, the court will grant outright ownership to you.
3. Failure to Disclose Property Defects
In the majority of states, property sellers have a responsibility to reveal defects about the property to potential buyers. But in Arkansas, the rule of caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) still applies. This rule means that buyers are responsible for determining the condition of the property. However, even under caveat emptor, the seller is not absolved from all responsibility for property defects disclosure.
A seller must inform a potential buyer about the presence of lead paint or any health or safety risks on the property, for example. They must also honestly answer any direct questions about property defects. If you believe that a seller has violated their duty to disclose a property defect, start gathering evidence of the defect and consult with a real estate lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact the experienced team at ATG today at 501-734-2233 for assistance with any real estate title and closing needs.