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Property boundary lines and due diligence in New York City

| Apr 4, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

Real estate buyers may overlook the importance of boundary lines during the due diligence process. Purchasing property in New York City without understanding its borders could result in a surprise after moving in.

Sidewalk trees, for example, may belong to the property owner, a neighbor or the city. Owners are responsible for maintaining and caring for trees. As noted by CityLand, the boundary lines shown in a title survey confirm a tree’s ownership. If a tree belongs to the city or a neighbor, a property owner cannot cut its roots or remove it.

Boundary lines may influence transactions

In addition to trees, owners are responsible for landscaping and weed removal. A homeowner may have liability for an injury caused by a fallen branch because of a failure to maintain the tree. Roots that grow above the sidewalk may create a slip-and-fall hazard that may also create a liability for a property owner.

Potential owners hoping to avoid tree-related expenses may need to find another property. When structures stand in the way of an offer, however, a potential buyer may have an option to negotiate the asking price in consideration of third-party expenses.

Easements may reflect a potential issue

Some NYC neighbors may have agreements in place that allow them access to a property. For example, a property owner may have given an individual permission to cross through his or her private alleyway to enter a neighboring building.

Known as an easement, an individual’s legal right to access a property may not appear in a title search, according to Bankrate. Due diligence, however, may reveal whether a prior owner has granted permission allowing another to rightfully use a property.

Buyers interested in NYC properties may avoid potential problems by conducting sufficient due diligence regarding boundary lines. Doing so could help prevent legal issues from developing after taking possession.