As a Texas homeowner, the value of your property reflects both the care and maintenance you invest in your own property and how much work your neighbors put into their homes. When your neighbor makes a significant improvement to their property, such as the addition of a barn, garage or fence, it can have a positive impact on your property value, too.
However, there is a shadow side to new development and improvements on a nearby property, especially when they fall very close to the property line or over a disputed boundary. In some cases, if you let the improper placement of a building or fence go unaddressed, you could wind up losing some of your property to your neighbor as a result.
Your neighbor could take some of your land through adverse possession
You may be familiar with the concept of squatters’ rights or the ability of someone to claim a property they lived on or used but never purchased or paid for, which is exactly what adverse possession is. Effectively, someone who lives on, maintains or improves property that does not belong to them may eventually be able to make a claim against the title of that property.
Each state in the country has its own rules regarding adverse possession. In Texas, the person attempting to claim possession has to demonstrate that they have openly lived on or utilized the property. Under Texas’ adverse possession laws, the person claiming adverse possession must take visible appropriation and possession. In other words, they have to act openly and not hide when the owner or others visit or pass by.
How to push back against adverse possession efforts
The owner of a property typically needs to take speedy action in order to prevent such claims. If someone uses or lives on land that you hold title to, you could have as little as three years to initiate legal proceedings or risk claims of adverse possession.
While the fence or building could be only a few feet over the property line, losing that property could impact your property value. You paid for and maintained that property prior to the construction of the improvements by your neighbor, which is why you should absolutely verify the boundaries and take steps to avoid adverse possession claims by your neighbor by pushing back against improperly placed buildings or fences.