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Resolving a property encroachment issue - is it worth it to hire a lawyer or go to small claims court?

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I have a property encroachment dispute with a neighbor, who is a contractor converting a residential property into a commercial property for flip. (His and my units are joined as semi-attached properties). As a result of his construction work, there were some minor damages to the shared fence (removed and re-installed over my property), his new roof installed over my roof, erected construction fence over my parking space (most of the fence is now removed), and many instances of trespassing by his hired help.

Besides inconvenience and a few minor damages, I am wondering if this enough grounds to pursue a lawsuit, and if so, what would be the likely costs of litigation and expected rewards?

Attorney Answers 3


Small claims court can award damages, but cannot determine title to real property. Thus, to the extent that the neighbor is claiming some of your property as his, you cannot get the relief you want in small claims court. Since situations such as you describe may have long term ramifications to your property title, I would suggest you hire a real estate attorney to advise you. One of the first topics to be discussed should be the attorney's fees and how you would be billed.

My answer to your question is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship,

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I agree with the prior answer. Not straightening this out now can create a "cloud" on your title, and will affect any attempts by you to sell your property in the future. It is definitely worth pursuing. But you do need to sue in Supreme Court if it can't be resolved through negotiations.

Consult your county bar association for referral to a real estate attorney.

I am an attorney admitted solely in NY. None of the answers I submit on this forum constitutes legal advice, even to questioners in NY, and no attorney-client relationship is hereby created.

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Any personal recommendation for a real estate attorney in new york city - queens?

Susan Pernick

Susan Pernick


No, sorry, not in Queens.


the trespassing probably will not amount to much if you did not complain at the time. The other issues need to be taken care of as soon as possible. You should have an attorney who will know how many parties and third parties to involve.

DISCLAIMER: I am not your attorney and readers employ any information provided herein at their own risk. Any comment is for general educational purposes only, and is based only on the limited facts provided, which may or may not be true. It is not legal advice upon which you may rely, as the commenter has not interviewed witnesses or examined any evidence, and has not researched the applicable law. Available defenses may prevent the success of any claim. Competent legal advice should always be obtained from a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction before taking any legal action or filing suit.

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