Generally, disputes over land ownership arise between adjoining land owners. They may disagree over where the dividing line is between them. When buying property, whether a lot or many acres, they assume that the lines shown by the seller are accurate. Unfortunately, that is not always true. That does not mean the seller lied, especially where there are no fences or other clearly defined lines. The problem can arise because two property owners used two surveyors who do not agree on where the beginning point for the surveys should be. Sometimes, deed descriptions overlap. There can be many causes of the misunderstanding and it may become necessary for the courts to sort out ownership.
To avoid the problem on the front end, you should be sure that an attorney searches the land records to verify ownership of the property you plan to buy. A surveyor can be employed to run and mark your lines according to the deed description. Then you can discuss the lines with your new neighbors to be sure there is no disagreement. If there is, sort it out before you buy.
Assuming you have already purchased the problem, it will still take a lawyer and a surveyor to help you and your neighbors sort out the problem and either agree on a mutual line or submit it to the court for decision. The outcome will depend on many factors and they vary from case to case. Who holds the first deed to the contested property? What is the best beginning point for surveying the property? Who has been using and maintaining the property in dispute? These and other possible questions must be answered.
In Mississippi, if a person uses and maintains property, while claiming ownership, for a period of 10 years, they may “adversely possess” the property of another. There are several legal elements not described here that must be proven to take the property of another and what actually will constitute “adverse possession” varies depending on the type of land and the usage. Before you let anyone mow, fence or use your property, or pay taxes on it, for a long period of time, consult an attorney.