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Property Lines: Everything You Need To Know

Emma Tomsich4-minute read

September 23, 2022

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You often see fences built between houses, and wonder how the placement of that fence was decided. In most cases, where fences or other property featured are place is dependent on property lines. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance to know where the lines begin and end on your property, as well as the property you may be looking to buy.

What Are Property Lines?

Property lines, or boundary lines, define the points where properties begin and end. These boundaries are used when installing features such as fences, pools and home additions. Some property lines have physical markers, whereas others are invisible.

It’s important to know that a property line in the front of the house determines the measured distance of the land, known as the frontage. In contrast, the property boundaries on the side of your house are known as sidelines. Knowing this information is helpful when property owners are making potential improvements to their home, such as adding a fence or making major landscaping decisions.

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Why Is Knowing Your Property Lines Important?

Having a good understanding of your home’s property lines is a very important part of being a homeowner. Knowing where your property begins and ends can prevent potential unpleasantries or legal disputes with your neighbors. It can also ensure that you’re respecting your neighbor’s privacy and space. It’s important to note that an unknown property line encroachment could result in a title company refusing insurance.

How To Find Property Lines

While locating property lines might seem like an overwhelming task, there are a few easy ways a property owner can find or evaluate theirs. Consider the following:

Read The Property Line Map, Or ‘Plat’

A property line basemap, or a “plat,” is a drawing that maps out your property’s boundary lines and includes details like elevations, bodies of water and structures. You might even be able to find property maps of neighboring properties if you have shared property lines. A plat is typically included with your property’s paperwork, available at your local assessor’s office or accessible online.

Check The Deed To The Property

One way to check your property lines is to look at the property’s deed. The deed should have a legal description of your land’s boundaries. If for some reason the current deed does not describe the property lines, it will refer you to an older one that does. But know that if you use an older deed, it may include landmarks or other features that no longer exist.

Acquire A Property Line Survey

A property line survey is a precise measurement of a land’s legal boundaries. If a property line survey is not already included with the plat and the property deed, you can hire a professional surveyor to measure where your property ends and your neighbor’s begins.

Land surveyors will also research the property’s history regarding things like subdivisions, easements, and ecological restrictions. A mortgage lender will usually require a new survey be done for the property upon purchase.

Look For Property Line Markers

Some newer properties might include property line markers, such as stakes, from when the properties were first divided. If you have a slightly older property, you can likely still find these markers if you walk your property lines and look closely for stakes that are either sticking up or are flush with the ground.

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Can My Neighbor Build A Fence On The Property Line?

If your neighbor is thinking about building a fence on the property line between your two homes, they must be aware of all necessary laws and regulations. Where a neighbor can build a fence on the property depends on jurisdiction laws and any deed restrictions on either of your homes. As a general rule, laws typically state that a fence must be built at least 2 – 8 inches from a neighbor’s property line. A fence built directly on a property line may result in a joint responsibility of the fence between the neighbors, including maintenance and costs. Just as a precaution, if you or a neighbor are thinking of building a fence on or near one of your home’s property lines, make sure to consult your real estate agent on any rules and regulations.

Can I Find My Property Line Online?

Yes, you can usually find your property lines online. Your county may have online maps for all of the real estate in your area, accessible through the official county or assessor’s website. Property lines can also be found through any online search engine on Geographical Information System (GIS) maps. Another way to view property lines online is on interactive online maps.

The Bottom Line

As a homeowner, it’s crucial that you’re aware of property lines so that you can respect your neighbor’s property and avoid any legal disputes. If you’re struggling to find your home’s property lines, utilize one of the strategies mentioned above, or go online to check. Remember that before you start an outdoor project such as building a fence on the property line, make sure to consult with your neighbor and a real estate agent about your property’s rules and regulations.

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Emma Tomsich

Emma Tomsich is a student at Marquette University studying Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for writing, and hopes to one day own her own business. In her free time, Emma likes to travel, shop, run and drink coffee.