Property disputes are a common occurrence in North Carolina. When multiple people have an interest or involvement in a single piece of property, disagreements are bound to happen. While property disputes can remain small and civil, sometimes tempers flare and these disagreements quickly turn into a legal matter.
Knowledge is always one of the most effective ways to arm yourself in any dispute or to even prevent a disagreement, so read on to learn about property disputes and what you can do if you find yourself in the middle of one.
What is a property dispute?
A property dispute is a legal dispute that involves real estate. As simple as that may sound, this is a complex area of law because “property dispute” is a catchall term that can apply to a wide range of disputes over an equally wide range of properties. These disputes often stem from disagreements over things like where property lines lie, who is at fault for property damage, responsibility for repairs to property, and even blocked views. They can be large or small in nature, with some minor disputes able to be solved privately by the parties involved through open communication or mediation, while others require court litigation.
Property disputes can involve anything from vacant lots to houses, apartments, condominiums, roads, driveways, ponds, or other types of real property. Property disputes are not limited to being between homeowners or landlords and tenants, either; just about anyone who has an interest in the real estate in question can become involved in a property dispute, including:
- Homeowner Associations (HOAs)
- Property visitors
- Family members
- Builders and developers
- Government agencies and municipalities
It is important to remember that governing bodies can own property, too, so they can become a party in a property dispute.
Types of property disputes
As previously mentioned, “property dispute” can refer to a wide range of disputes. While the first thing that probably comes to mind is a dispute between neighbors, many other kinds of property disputes occur, such as:
- Landlord-tenant disputes can include violations of tenants’ rights, lease violations, disputes over who is responsible for repairs to a property, and matters regarding eviction. If the landlord and tenant cannot solve the issue privately with open communication, these disputes can either be resolved through mediation or in small claims court.
- Professional negligence disputes are realtor-client disputes that specifically pertain to instances where a realtor has not fulfilled their duty of care as a real estate professional. These disputes can include a realtor failing to disclose problems with a property to their client, omitting information about a property like upcoming zoning changes, or failing to disclose conflicts of interest in a sale such as representing both the buyer and the seller.
- Realtor-realtor disputes generally are between the agents representing the different parties in a sale of property. They often occur when the agent for the seller and the agent for the buyer disagree on how to split the commission from a sale, or when one agent feels another has broken the realtor code of ethics.
- Disagreements involving real property rights are probably the more common property disputes that come to mind and often occur between neighbors. These are usually over rights or restrictions that “run with the land,” or carry over with the sale of a property. An example would be an easement (a legal right that allows a person to use someone else’s land for a specific purpose) where a homeowner previously allowed a neighbor to use their yard to park a vehicle in, but that has now become a disagreement with the new owner of the property in question.
Other types of property disputes include:
- Realtor-client disputes
- Title discrepancies
- Administrative Proceedings (this usually involves the foreclosure process and proper process to get the tenant out of the property)
How to solve property disputes
Civil conversation between all parties is typically the preferred method of solving property disputes, but when communication breaks down, open communication simply isn’t enough. When the resolution process needs to be escalated, the next step is generally mediation. Mediation happens outside of a court, with a neutral mediator guiding discussions between both parties and their attorneys. If an agreement still cannot be reached, litigation in a courtroom becomes necessary.
Some property disputes don’t follow this escalation process, however, and instead go straight to litigation, depending on the severity of the dispute.
With so many different methods to resolve a property dispute, it can be tricky to navigate through all your options. Even if you think you should first attempt to resolve a dispute party-to-party through civil conversation, it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side who can provide you with your options. Whatever the type of property dispute you are in the middle of, SeiferFlatow can guide you through the resolution process. Contact us to speak with a member of our team and discuss your options.