Does property usually start at the street or the sidewalk?

Different Definitions

In some places the property line extends right up to the curb, but has a wide setback for potential public use. In other places the property line might extend all the way out to the center of the street. In instances like that, the property line is a technicality for unlikely events such as complete road removal. Should your property line extend that far, the public setback will range from the center of the road to a predetermined point in your lawn.

Generally speaking, the most common scenario is that the road is defined as wider than the actual curb-to-curb distance. For example, if the street you live on is 30 feet wide but the “plat” (a plan, map or chart of a piece of land with actual or proposed features) shows it as 40 feet, then the “street” technically extends 10 feet into your lawn. This extension usually contains sidewalks, publicly-owned trees and major utility runs.

Making things trickier, each municipality also has its own rules about who is responsible for maintaining sidewalks and trees. It can be frustrating, but in most cases the homeowner is responsible for maintaining everything up to the street, even if it is technically beyond your property line.

These are our all-time favorite property line horror stories.


How Setbacks Are Measured

The measurement of a setback starts from the closest part of the structure or building to the property line. In measuring a setback, the front, side, and rear are all considered. However, there are usually some minor structures on a property that the authorities can exempt when measuring setback. These structures could be mailboxes, flagpoles, signs, and other structures used for recreational purposes like treehouses and swings.

Setbacks are more critical in the denser part of the town. It is put in place to permit a light angle of about 30 degrees. The essence is to provide enough ventilation and avoid a situation where there is overcrowding in that environment.

The general setback for the front of a property is 10 feet, 10 feet for the rear, and 4 feet on the sides, although it varies according to the various zones. There are different rules for roads and other structures. Different rules apply to congested areas.

Most times, you cannot build over public utilities like water, power, telecommunications, etc. without obtaining written approval from the authorities.

Check Sidewalks and Street Lights

Examine the lines that are cut in the sidewalk in front of your house. Often, the contractor who poured the sidewalk started and stopped on the property lines, so those cut lines may coincide with the edges of your property. As well, the appearance of the concrete on your side of the property may be slightly different from that on your neighbor’s side. Streetlights, too, are often placed on property lines. While these visual clues are good indications of property lines, if you intend to build or install something on your land, you’ll need additional verification.


The Bottom Line

As a homeowner, it’s crucial that you’re aware of property lines so that you can respect your neighbor’s property and avoid any legal disputes. If you’re struggling to find your home’s property lines, utilize one of the strategies mentioned above, or go online to check. Remember that before you start an outdoor project such as building a fence on the property line, make sure to consult with your neighbor and a real estate agent about your property’s rules and regulations.

Are you trying to put in a new fence but aren’t sure how to pay for it? Why not apply for a cash out refinance today?

Can My Neighbor Build A Fence On The Property Line?

If your neighbor is thinking about building a fence on the property line between your two homes, they must be aware of all necessary laws and regulations. Where a neighbor can build a fence on the property depends on jurisdiction laws and any deed restrictions on either of your homes. As a general rule, laws typically state that a fence must be built at least 2 – 8 inches from a neighbor’s property line. A fence built directly on a property line may result in a joint responsibility of the fence between the neighbors, including maintenance and costs. Just as a precaution, if you or a neighbor are thinking of building a fence on or near one of your home’s property lines, make sure to consult your real estate agent on any rules and regulations.

Problems With Imposing Setbacks   

You can blame setbacks for reducing the size of the space available for the use of landowners. It is said to have an economic impact on society. It is because lands that should be useful for several purposes amounts to a waste. With setbacks, an owner of property uses up more land than is needed.

Another problem with setbacks is that it places a limit or restriction of the landowner concerning how much of his land he can use. Thus, it amounts to a limitation on one’s property rights.

FAQs About How to Find Property Lines

Using the above techniques, new homeowners or those wishing to find property lines for construction purposes, can do a bit of sleuthing to find their property line markers. In addition, those who are just curious about where their property boundaries lie may have some questions.

Q: Is it possible to survey my own property?

You can try by using the information from your deed and obtaining a copy of your property’s plat from your county’s Register of Deeds Office. You can follow the information and use a tape measure, but be aware that only a professional survey is valid for legal purposes.

Q: How do I see property lines on Google Maps?

Type in the address and then zoom in. In some regions, Google Maps shows property lines, but not for all locations.

Q: How do I find the GPS coordinates for my property?

This is also available on Google Maps. Scroll in to view your property and then right-mouse-click and select “What’s here?” The GPS coordinates will appear at the bottom.

Q: Can a neighbor remove survey stakes?

They’re not supposed to. Pins are supposed to be permanent property line markers, but property pins have been known to show up in the wrong spot.


Q: How do you mark property corners?

Only a licensed surveyor can mark the corners with property markers.

Q: What is the seven-year boundary rule?

Also known as “squatter’s rights,” some believe that if they take possession of land that isn’t theirs for seven years, they can apply for possession of the land. Not all communities permit this.

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