Photo of Frequently Asked Questions About Boundary Disputes

Frequently Asked Questions About Boundary Disputes


Many people who contact Kirton McConkie for help with a boundary dispute never thought they’d need the services of an attorney. Unfortunately, boundary disputes happen to residents and businesses all the time. The laws defining where a property line lies are complex and involve many specifics beyond the property line on current maps. Neighboring parties and properties can have different interpretations about how the law's specifics should apply to their border, which can cause a boundary dispute over where the property line is in the eyes of the law.

An attorney specializing in boundary disputes will help you apply the specifics of the law to strengthen your claim. Without proper representation by a boundary dispute attorney, you could lose thousands of dollars or more in property value if the court decides to move your property line.

The following answers to common questions about boundary disputes will help you understand how valuable an attorney can be during a boundary dispute.

Utah and Idaho Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes in Utah and Idaho can be competitive. Some of the most consequential boundary disputes can happen in rural or suburban areas. Both states contain much of both.

The vast, often loosely marked acreage of the larger plots of land in rural and suburban areas leads to many disputes. Plus, because the plots are so large, one small calculation of an angle can result in a border that runs in the wrong direction and cuts through vast swaths of valuable land.

In the scenario described above, proving that a line was misdrawn may not be enough to win a boundary dispute claim. Whoever currently uses the land and how they use it will also play a role in who has a claim to the property.

If you have a boundary dispute, get help from an experienced boundary dispute attorney like the experts at Kirton McConkie.

Boundary Disputes FAQ

The experienced boundary dispute attorneys at Kirton McConkie have the answers to frequently asked questions about boundary disputes.

What is a boundary dispute?

A boundary dispute is a disagreement about the exact location of a property's border. Sometimes people establish borders through verbal agreements or based on inaccurate measurements. These problems can compound over time and result in a boundary dispute in the future. Several issues can cause boundary disputes, and the law has specific ways to handle each type.

What are some causes of boundary disputes?

Boundary disputes can grow from a variety of initial issues. Some of the most common are: 

Inaccurate Surveys

Land surveys sometimes make mistakes that result in inaccuracies. Inaccurate measurements by a land surveyor often cause boundary disputes. These errors can happen when the initial border is drawn on official city maps or during landscaping or construction projects requiring a surveyor.

Defective Deeds

Defective deeds are title documents that don't fulfill all legal requirements. Some property deeds, especially old ones, sometimes only partially describe a property's borders, which creates a legal discrepancy that must be addressed. Such deeds are described as "failing to close." These discrepancies can create boundary disputes when a property changes hands through a sale or inheritance.

Boundary Changes

Boundaries can change over time. City officials and surveyors often describe a section of property in terms of its relation to a landmark or geographic feature. Unfortunately, landmarks and even geographic features don't always remain the same over time. Properties with legal documents that describe its borders in such terms are subject to boundary disputes when those features change.

Communication Breakdowns

Sometimes, neighbors agree upon borders using verbal agreements. These oral agreements can result in miscommunication between parties. Over time, the terms of such deals may be forgotten or hard to meet. These situations can lead to boundary disputes, especially if one of the parties involved in the verbal agreement dies.

What are the legal remedies for boundary disputes?

The Utah Supreme Court explained its rules for resolving boundary disputes in the Bahr v. Imus decision in 2011. The court encourages neighboring property owners to reach an agreement. Still, if legal action is necessary, the following are the ways the law settles boundary disputes.


The parties involved in a boundary dispute can work together to find an agreement about where the official border between neighboring properties should be drawn. That can include alternative compensation, including cash, from one party to another.


Mediation is similar to negotiation but will involve some form of legal element. It often involves attorneys and may even involve an overseer from the court. Parties undergoing mediation can change their offer as they go, as they might with a negotiation.


With arbitration, the parties involved in the boundary dispute present their claim on the disputed property. A court-approved arbiter will consider the case and deliver the final decision on where the property line should be. The arbiter's decision is final. Once the arbiter decides, the parties will lose the option to negotiate.


Usually, the most expensive option is going to court over a boundary dispute. Litigation usually only happens if other methods of resolution have failed. It will involve as much of the legal system as is needed to navigate the case, even up to a trial in some cases. At the end of litigation over a boundary dispute, a court order will determine where the property line truly lies.

How to Solve a Boundary Dispute

If you are in a boundary dispute with your neighbor or a neighboring business, avoid jumping straight to litigation. Take these simple steps to help resolve the dispute.

Check Your Records

Before engaging in a legal battle over a boundary dispute, be sure you have one. Check your title and property records to see if they back your claim or if they differ from your understanding of where the property line should be. After you know what the documents say, take the next step.

Politely Talk to Your Neighbor

As long as you feel safe, politely talk to your neighbor about where your property line is and what the records say. Negotiate, compromise, and seek an agreement that will keep both parties happy. Good neighbors are invaluable.

Contact a Boundary Dispute Attorney

If you and the other party can't negotiate a working arrangement for the property line, contact a boundary dispute attorney. You may be tempted to handle your own boundary dispute case, but title law can be complex. It may take more to win than hiring a surveyor to map out the property line. Some legal statutes involving property borders consider landmarks and fences, and even who is using the land and how they're using it, which can all affect where the court decides to draw the line.

Ensure your border dispute claim gets the legal consideration it deserves in mediation, arbitration, or trial. Get help from an experienced boundary dispute attorney at Kirton McConkie. A boundary dispute attorney can help you make the best case for your property ownership.

For boundary dispute claims from Boise and Salt Lake to St. George and throughout southern Utah, contact Kirton McConkie. Our experienced boundary dispute attorneys know the Utah title and zoning statutes that will impact your claim and can help present your case with the best chance of reaching your desired outcome. Contact Kirton McConkie today!

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