Property Disputes in Des Moines, IA
Property disputes in Iowa 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 Des Moines, Iowa. 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. Des Moines, IA property disputes can involve a wide range of parties, which might include some of the following:
- Homeowners’ association
- Landlords and tenants
- Family members
- Property visitors
- Government agencies
In Iowa, the District Court will hear property dispute cases. Des Moines residents will typically file with the Polk County District Court. Upon appeal, the case may receive review by the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Common Types of Des Moines, Iowa 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 Des Moines 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 Des Moines, Iowa Property Disputes
Iowa Code prohibits anyone from willfully injuring any tree on another’s land, or in the street in front of another’s land. Additionally, you cannot injure any tree on the public grounds of any city in the state, including Des Moines. The perpetrator must pay three times the damages in a civil action.
According to One Rural, farming operations located in agricultural areas in Iowa automatically receive protection from nuisance claims. This state law applies regardless of when the farm began operating or whether it has expanded. These agricultural areas are designated through county zoning. Of note, Polk County has zoned certain areas in the county as agricultural.
Legal Process for Boundary Disputes In Des Moines, Iowa
Has someone brought a property dispute against you in Des Moines, 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 Des Moines, IA 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.
Chapter 650 of Iowa Code outlines laws involving disputed corners and boundaries in the state. For example, a Des Moines landowner may bring an action in Polk County District Court to permanently establish corners or boundaries if they have been lost or destroyed. Additionally, if boundaries and corners have been recognized and acquiesced for ten years, the court will deem them to be permanently established.
Try to Find a Solution with Your Neighbor
Property dispute litigation in Des Moines, Iowa 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 Des Moines 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 Des Moines, IA 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.
If you live in Des Moines, you and your attorney will generally begin by filing your action in the Polk County District Court Clerk’s Office. During the proceedings, you may have to appear at the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Des Moines.
Work With an Experienced Local Property Dispute Lawyer In Des Moines, Iowa
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 Des Moines 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 Iowa state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!