Property Disputes in Austin, TX

Property disputes in Texas are common between neighbors. They even occur between companies and governments. People want to protect what is legally theirs, but sometimes the boundary lines are not clear.

Find out what you can do if you have a property dispute in Austin, Texas. Discover the legal remedies and actions that can help you clear up a misunderstanding, arrange a settlement, or manage an issue involving your property.

What Is a Property Dispute?

Property disputes are legal disputes that involve real estate, including single-family homes, apartments, roads, condominiums, and ponds. Austin, TX property disputes can involve a wide range of parties, which might include some of the following:

  • Neighbors
  • Homeowners’ association
  • Landlords and tenants
  • Family members
  • Trespassers
  • Property visitors
  • Government agencies

The court that handles your Austin property dispute will typically depend on the amount of money involved. The District Court has jurisdiction over all civil matters. However, if your case involves $250,000 or less, the Travis County Court at Law may have concurrent jurisdiction.

Common Types of Austin, Texas Property Disputes

It’s important to know about common disputes to understand your circumstances. The most common property disputes often include:

  • Disputes between neighbors regarding where property lines exist
  • Disputes between landlords and tenants regarding who is at fault for damage to the property
  • Homeowners and real estate developers disagreeing over who is responsible for repairs on construction
  • People blocking their neighbor’s view via a “spite fence” or another structure specifically made to annoy their neighbor
  • Disputes between mortgage lenders and creditors over who can foreclose a property and who receives the proceeds of a sale
  • Disputes between homeowners and government agencies about whether they have a utility easement
  • Ownership disputes about who is the rightful owner of a property
  • Issues with zoning

Beyond these examples, you may find other situations in Austin where a property dispute occurs. In general, if you own land, you have to constantly watch out for it and ensure that others are not using it illegally or trying to claim it as their own.

Understanding Typical Austin, Texas Property Disputes

Trees near a property line can often cause friction between Austin neighbors. Texas does not have state statutes that govern trees and branches. Instead, Travis County courts will rely on common law principles. According to Texas Legal Help, you can trim branches that overhang your property. However, you can only trim up to the property line and cannot damage the tree or your neighbor’s property. In addition, the Austin City Arborist has regulatory authority when cutting down certain trees on private property.

The sounds, smells, and other inconveniences of living or working near agricultural operations can also be a source of Austin property disputes. However, the Texas Agricultural Code contains Right to Farm provisions similar to those in every state. These protect Austin farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits in most circumstances. However, to gain this protection, the farm has to be in operation for at least a year and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. This would include adhering to Austin zoning ordinances.

Legal Process for Boundary Disputes In Austin, Texas

Has someone brought a property dispute against you in Austin, or are you starting a property dispute against someone else? If so, you need to understand the legal process you will go through. This process begins with understanding the issue at hand.

Understand the Boundary Issue

To understand the specific boundary dispute, you’ll have to do the following things:

  • Complete a land survey to locate the exact boundary of your home as outlined in the legal description of the deed. This survey will help you understand your property and how much of your land is encroached.
  • Conduct an appraisal to learn the exact market value of the piece of property that is in dispute.
  • Do a title search to find all of the documents in the chain of title of your Austin, TX property. The title search will show if any deeds may affect your ownership.

These things will likely have happened when you purchased the home. If that’s the case, the documents you already have should suffice unless the case goes to court.

According to the Texas Legal Services Center, Texas does not have specific statutes regarding boundary fences. Because of this, Travis County courts will look to common law principles when deciding fence and boundary disputes. For example, a landowner is usually responsible for a fence on their property. Unless they have an agreement to share costs with their neighbor. In addition, the City of Austin has several ordinances that regulate residential fences. These typically relate to the protection of watershed areas or sightline obstruction for roads.

Try to Find a Solution with Your Neighbor

Property dispute litigation in Austin, Texas can cost a fortune, not to mention it can take a long time to settle a dispute. Therefore, it’s important to open a discussion between you and your neighbor. If you can reach an agreement and settle the dispute without going to court, you can save time and money.

Try to communicate directly with your neighbor. You can attempt sending a letter, email, making a phone call, or visiting their home if that’s a safe option.

If no progress happens and it’s clear that you and your neighbor are still on completely different pages, at this point, you should consider hiring an attorney to assist you. They can help you understand if you have legal grounds upon which to stand. If you do, then you can send a demand letter.

Sending a Demand Letter

This letter will be from your Austin attorney to your neighbor, and it will outline the property dispute. It will give your neighbor the option to respond via a requested action, or it will provide a reasonable price for settling the dispute out of court.

Your neighbor will likely forward this letter to their attorney to better understand the boundary dispute. From there, the attorneys on both sides will decide the best course of action moving forward.

Going to Court or Reaching a Settlement

Typically, the best option for both sides is to settle the dispute out of court to avoid costly litigation fees. But if your negotiations are going nowhere, it might be necessary to file the dispute with the court. The court will then look closely at the evidence presented and determine who owns the Austin, TX property in question. Keep in mind the court’s decision is legally binding. You may not agree with it, or it may not be exactly the result you wanted to see. That is why it’s typically in your best interest to settle.

The Herman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse houses both the Travis County Court at Law and the District Court. The size and type of your case will determine which court has jurisdiction.

Work With an Experienced Local Property Dispute Lawyer In Austin, Texas

When it comes to property disputes, you should work with an experienced property dispute lawyer. Whether you’re filing a property dispute against your neighbor or you are defending a dispute brought against you, you’ll need a lawyer that understands Austin property law on your side. An experienced lawyer can help you settle before taking the dispute to court, which will save you both time and money. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Texas state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!

We offer coverage on other areas of Austin, TX law if your search has led to more questions:

How It All Works

Call us or answer the questions on this site. Your category, location, and additional information will help us connect you to a legal professional and we’ll send you the results instantly.

Which Areas of Law?

We have attorneys in over 20 legal categories to choose from.

How Much Does This Cost?

We don’t charge you to be connected. Some legal categories require upfront fees while others do not. The legal professional will determine this with you before you commit to anything.