Can My Neighbor and I Agree on Where the Property Line Is? (Advice From a Lawyer) 

Property boundaries can sometimes become a subject of dispute between neighbors, leading to strained relationships and potential legal battles. 

However, in certain cases, neighbors may wonder whether they can resolve these disagreements by simply agreeing on the location of the property line. 

Neighbors can often end a property line dispute by entering into a lot line agreement.

A lot line agreement is a mutually agreed-upon document that defines the boundaries between adjacent properties. By voluntarily entering into this agreement, neighbors can resolve their disputes and establish clear boundaries.

It is important to know that mistakes can be made when entering a lot line agreement. There are several common pitfalls to be aware of. This article will discuss the best strategies for entering into a lot line agreement and avoiding common mistakes.  

Understanding Property Lines

Property lines are the legally defined boundaries that separate one person’s land from another’s. These lines establish ownership rights and responsibilities for the property. 

They can be marked by physical features such as fences, walls, or natural landmarks or based on survey measurements.

Importance of Defining Property Lines

Defining property lines is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it clarifies the extent of your property rights, allowing you to make informed decisions about land use and development. 

It also helps avoid encroachments, trespassing, and boundary disputes with neighbors. Furthermore, clearly defined property lines are necessary for obtaining permits, constructing structures, and resolving issues related to easements and right-of-way.

What is a Lot Line Agreement? 

A lot line agreement, also known as a boundary line agreement or property line agreement, is a legal document that defines and establishes the boundaries between two adjacent properties. 

A lot line agreement is commonly used when there is a dispute or uncertainty regarding the exact location of the property lines.

The agreement is usually entered into voluntarily by the owners of the adjacent properties, and it outlines the agreed-upon boundaries between their respective parcels of land. 

This document helps prevent future boundary disputes and clarifies the rights and responsibilities of each property owner.

What is Typically Included in a Lot Line Agreement? 

A lot line agreement typically includes the following information:

1. A Legal Description of The Properties

The agreement describes the properties involved, including their legal descriptions, addresses, and other identifying information. 

Once you and your neighbor reach an agreement on the property line, you will need to hire a professional surveyor to come out and survey the property and draft a legal description.

Tim’s Legal Tip: Hiring a professional land surveyor is the best way to determine property lines accurately. Surveyors use advanced techniques and equipment to measure and map the land boundaries, providing an authoritative representation of the property lines.

2. The Agreement Will Specificy The Boundary Determination

The agreement will specify the exact location of the property lines based on surveys, landmarks, or other established reference points. This ensures that both parties clearly understand where their property begins and ends.

3. Rights and Responsibilities

The agreement will outline the rights and responsibilities of each property owner regarding the shared boundaries. For example, it may address issues such as maintenance, access to utilities, and the construction of structures near the property line.

4. Easements and Restrictions

The agreement may also address any easements or restrictions that affect the use of the properties. This could include granting access rights to one party over the other’s land or prohibiting certain activities near the boundary.

5. Signatures and Notarization

To make the agreement legally binding, it requires the signatures of all involved parties. Notarization may also be necessary to ensure its validity.

6. Record The Agreement in the Recorder of Deeds Office

In most states, recording the lot line agreement with the appropriate local authority, such as the county recorder’s office or land registry, is advisable or even mandatory.

Recording the lot line agreement serves several purposes:

  • Public record: Recording the agreement creates a public record of the defined boundaries between the properties. This can help establish the boundaries for future reference and provide notice to others interested in the properties.
  • Notice to third parties: By recording the agreement, it can provide notice to third parties, such as future property owners or lenders, about the agreed-upon boundaries. This helps prevent future disputes or confusion regarding the property lines.
  • Legal enforceability: Recording the lot line agreement enhances its legal enforceability. It helps demonstrate that the agreement is a legitimate and binding document that has been publicly acknowledged.

Common Mistakes Made When Entering Into Lot Line Agreements

It’s essential to be aware of common pitfalls to avoid errors that could have legal consequences when entering into a lot line agreement. Some of the most common mistakes include:

1. Not Putting The Agreement in Writing

Neighbors may sometimes consider informal agreements to settle property line disputes, assuming that a simple verbal understanding or handshake deal will suffice. 

You should never do this. Any lot line agreement should be reduced to writing and signed by all parties. Relying solely on informal agreements can be problematic for several reasons.

  • Ambiguity: Without a formal survey and legal documentation, the agreed-upon property line can be open to interpretation. Over time, misunderstandings or changes in circumstances may lead to conflicting interpretations, potentially reigniting disputes.
  • Legal Implications: Informal agreements lack the legal weight necessary to protect the rights of property owners. In case of future disagreements or property transfers, the absence of a formalized boundary can result in legal complications and even financial losses.
  • Future Buyers: When selling a property, prospective buyers often conduct thorough due diligence, including property surveys. If the agreed-upon property line differs from the legally recorded boundaries, it can raise concerns and discourage potential buyers.

2. Inaccurate Depiction of The Lot Line

Drawing an inaccurate or imprecise picture of the lot line can lead to misunderstandings and potential disputes. 

It’s crucial to accurately represent the boundary, which is best achieved through a professional land survey.

3. Inadequate Legal Description

Often people attempt to write their own legal description for the lot line agreement. Drafting your own legal description can be challenging and potentially risky. 

Legal descriptions are highly technical and precise, and inaccuracies or omissions can have significant consequences. 

It is advisable to consult a professional, such as a qualified land surveyor or real estate attorney, to ensure the accuracy and validity of the legal description.

Here are some reasons why drafting your own legal description can be problematic:

Complex Language

Legal descriptions typically use specialized language and terminology unfamiliar to those without legal or surveying expertise. Attempting to create a legal description without a thorough understanding of these terms could result in errors or an unclear description.

Technical Requirements

Legal descriptions must meet specific technical requirements, such as using specific surveying methods and referencing established survey points or monuments. Failure to adhere to these requirements could render the legal description invalid or open to challenge.

Precision and Accuracy

Legal descriptions must be precise and accurate to delineate the property’s exact boundaries. A minor error or omission in measurements, reference points, or bearings can lead to future confusion, disputes, or difficulties.

Compliance With Local Rules

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for legal descriptions. These requirements may vary based on the location, such as state or county-specific standards. Ensuring that the legal description meets the specific standards applicable in your area is crucial.

Given the complexity and potential risks of drafting a legal description, it is highly recommended to seek professional assistance. A qualified land surveyor or real estate attorney can ensure that the legal description accurately reflects the property’s boundaries and complies with legal requirements.

Their expertise and knowledge will help minimize the risk of errors, ensure the legal description is legally valid, and provide confidence in the document’s accuracy and enforceability.   

4. Ignoring Easements and Encroachments

Failure to address existing easements or encroachments in the lot line agreement can create complications. It’s essential to identify and address any shared rights or encroachments on the properties to establish the rights and responsibilities of each party.

5. Failure to Involve All Relevant Parties

If there are multiple property owners or stakeholders affected by the boundary dispute, it’s essential to include all parties in the lot line agreement. 

Excluding any interested parties can lead to further disputes and legal issues.

6. Failing to Record The Agreement With The Recorder of Deeds

Failing to record a lot line agreement can be a mistake with potential consequences. Recording the agreement establishes a public record, providing notice to third parties about the agreed-upon boundaries and protecting against future claims or challenges. It helps preserve the agreement, ensures compliance with legal requirements, and reduces the likelihood of future disputes. 

To mitigate these potential mistakes, working with professionals such as land surveyors and attorneys specializing in real estate law is advisable. They can provide guidance, ensure compliance with regulations, and help create a well-crafted lot line agreement that accurately reflects the intentions of all parties involved.

Steps to Ensure a Legally Binding Lot Line Agreement

To enter into a legal lot line agreement, the following steps are generally involved:

Step 1. Consultation With Professionals

Seek advice from professionals, such as a qualified land surveyor and a real estate attorney, who can provide guidance throughout the process. They will help ensure the agreement is accurate, legally valid, and complies with local regulations.

Step 2. Communication With the Neighboring Property Owner

Engage in open and constructive communication with the owner of the adjacent property. Discuss the boundary dispute or uncertainty, and express your willingness to resolve the issue through a lot line agreement.

Step 3. Conduct a Land Survey

Hire a professional land surveyor to conduct a detailed survey of the properties. The survey will determine the precise boundaries and reference points, serving as a foundation for the lot line agreement.

Step 4. Negotiation and Drafting of the Agreement

Work collaboratively with the neighboring property owner and possibly their legal representation to negotiate the terms of the lot line agreement. Address matters such as the boundary determination, rights and responsibilities, easements, and any specific provisions relevant to the properties.

Step 5. Review by an Attorney

Consult with a real estate attorney to review the drafted lot line agreement. They will ensure that the document accurately reflects the negotiated terms, complies with legal requirements, and protects your rights and interests.

Step 6. Signing the Agreement

Sign the lot line agreement once both parties are satisfied with the terms. All involved property owners need to sign the document voluntarily and clearly understand its implications.

Step 7. Recording the Agreement

Submit the lot line agreement for recording with the appropriate local authority, such as the county recorder’s office or land registry. Follow the required procedures and pay any applicable fees. Recording the agreement creates a public record and provides notice to third parties.


Q. Can property lines be changed without legal procedures? 

Property lines should only be changed with proper legal procedures and documentation. It is important to consult legal professionals and follow the required steps to ensure the changes are legally recognized.

Q. What if my neighbor disagrees with the property line agreement we made? 

If you disagree with your neighbor regarding the property line, it’s best to approach the situation calmly and diplomatically. Start by gathering relevant documents such as surveys, deeds, and records. 

If necessary, consult with a professional land surveyor to obtain an accurate assessment of the property boundaries. Open communication and seeking legal advice can help resolve the issue effectively.

Q. What if there are physical markers that contradict the property line agreement? 

Physical markers should be carefully evaluated and verified for accuracy. In case of discrepancies, it is advisable to consult a professional land surveyor to determine the correct property lines.

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Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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