Michigan Boundary Disputes Establishing Property Lines by Acquiescence

Have you ever found yourself engaged in a heated argument with your neighbor over a strip of land? Or maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of an unexpected property line encroachment that has left you feeling frustrated and unsure of your legal options.

Acquiescence to a property line can arise in three fact scenarios. Doubt or dispute about where the boundary is between two parcels of land is a complex area of Michigan real estate law that involves many different legal theories. The doctrine of acquiescence is one important legal remedy that is extensively developed in Michigan cases involving uncertain boundaries.


3 Ways to Determine the Lot Line Vs. Property Line Through Acquiescence

Michigan law recognizes three kinds of acquiescence vis-à-vis boundary lines.

The first is acquiescence for a statutory time period of at least 15 years, which means that when two adjoining landowners have treated a particular boundary as the real property line for at least that long, whether or not they have engaged in a dispute about the issue, a court can find that the boundary is at that place, even if it is different than that measured in a survey or described in a deed. This statutory period is 15 years long to give each neighbor adequate time to agree, or disagree, with said boundary.

For example, acquiescence can be established by two adjoining landowners who have treated a fence, railing or wall as the true boundary for the requisite time period.

If previous owners of the same parcel also acquiesced to a particular boundary line, their period of acquiescence can be added to or “tacked” onto the current owners’ period of acquiescence to establish the required 15 years.

The second theory is acquiescence after a dispute and agreement, also called the doctrine of practical location. When adjoining property owners have a boundary line dispute, but resolve it by express or implied agreement that sets a particular line as the boundary, that line becomes the true boundary if they treat it as such over time. Practical location depends on the actions of the parties, not on whether the acquiescence lasts 15 years, so that length of time, the statute of limitations, must not necessarily be reached under this theory.

Acquiescence arising from an intention to deed to a marked boundary is the final theory. When a boundary line has been treated by adjoining parties as the true line over a significant time period, when one of the involved parcels is deeded to another party, it is presumed that the grantor means to transfer the land from that recognized boundary line. The acquiesced line continues to be the one intended to be recognized in future transfers.


How Do You Resolve Boundary Line Disputes?

Property boundary cases are not hard to resolve if both parties are amicable. A Michigan boundary dispute may be resolved either by negotiation between the parties involved or in court such as in a lawsuit to quiet title. Acquiescence is one important legal theory such a plaintiff may assert, among other possible theories like adverse possession, easement by prescription, equitable estoppel, mutual mistake and others.

Anyone involved in a Michigan boundary dispute should speak with a real estate lawyer to understand the legal issues involved as well as potential legal remedies to the dispute.


What If I Want to Put a Fence Around My Property in Michigan?

Many times, property disputes begin because neighbors want to put up a fence and cannot agree on where to put it. Sometimes, issues arrive after a land owner builds a fence. There are statutes that discuss fence laws in Michigan. The government also has the ability to hire people to enforce Michigan fence law, called “fence viewers.” They will review the fence and the factors surrounding it to decide if it’s okay to move forward with construction.


How Do I Establish a New Boundary Line?

There are a few different things you’ll need in order to establish a new boundary line in Michigan. First, you’ll need a legal description of the property in question. This can be obtained from the county recorder’s office or the assessor’s office. Next, you’ll need to gather any deeds, surveys, or other documents that pertain to the property. These will be helpful in determining the property’s original boundaries. You’ll need to talk to your neighbors and see if they have any information or documents that could help in establishing the new boundary line. Once you have all of this information, you can start working on establishing the new boundary line. A qualified attorney will help you gather all of this information and streamline the process of establishing a boundary.


What Does a Boundary Dispute Lawyer Do?

Depending on the specific case, your lawyer may take on many roles in making sure the property you view as your own, stays that way. They may decide to hire a surveyor to ensure lot lines are publicly recorded. They may gather and look at plat maps, speak with neighboring landowners, and general gather information to prove your case.

With offices in Huntington Woods, the attorneys at Galloway and Collens, PLLC, represent individual and commercial clients in the Detroit metro area and throughout Southeast Michigan with boundary disputes and a wide variety of other real estate issues.

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