Property Disputes in Vermont

Property disputes in Vermont 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 Vermont. Discover the legal remedies and actions that can help you clear up a misunderstanding 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. Vermont 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

Property disputes in Vermont are under the jurisdiction of the state’s Superior Courts. The civil division of the Superior Court hears all lawsuits, regardless of the amount of damages that are sought.

Common Types of Vermont Property Disputes

Often, the result of a property dispute in Vermont is the plaintiff will receive compensation to cover their losses. The most common property disputes 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 Vermont 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 Vermont Property Disputes

Trees that grow on or near a property line can sometimes create conflict between neighbors. In Vermont, as in most states, you have the right to trim the branches of your neighbor’s tree if they overhang your property. However, you can only trim them up to the property line, and you must be careful not to cause damage to the tree. Under Vermont law, damaging someone else’s tree can potentially result in both civil and criminal penalties.

Another potential source of dispute among neighbors is agricultural activities. However, like all states, Vermont’s Right to Farm laws protect certain agricultural operations from nuisance lawsuits. In addition, the Vermont legislature gives a broad definition to what constitutes agriculture. For example, the law covers beekeeping, greenhouses, and the production of fuel or power from agricultural products.

Legal Process for Boundary Disputes in Vermont

Has someone brought a property dispute against you in Vermont, 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 Vermont 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.

Vermont statutes provide guidance regarding fences, especially those that form a boundary between two properties. The law dictates what constitutes a sufficient fence, including a 4.5 foot height requirement. In addition, the statutes address each landowner’s responsibility for the construction and repair of border fences. Furthermore, the law authorizes local Fence Viewers to handle disagreements regarding border fence placement and maintenance.

Try to Find a Solution with Your Neighbor

Vermont dispute litigation can cost a fortune, not to mention it can take a long time to settle a dispute. That’s why 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, then it’s time to take legal action.

Send a Demand Letter

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.

This letter will be from your Vermont 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.

Go to Court or Reach 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 look closely at the evidence presented and determine who owns the Vermont property in question. If you can’t reach an agreement, then the court will make a final decision based on the evidence you both submit. 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 is always in your best interest to settle.

Work With an Experienced Local Property Dispute Lawyer in Vermont

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 Vermont 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 Vermont state lines.

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

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