• Chaim Zlotowitz

Tired from shoveling your entire sidewalk? You may not be done yet!

Edit: Originally posted on LinkedIn 2/5/16

As New York City is being hit with the second snowstorm in as many weeks, at some point today homeowners will shovel and salt their sidewalks -or will they?

There is a saying that “On snow days you learn where your property lines begin,” but that is not always true. While you may have a fence separating your property from the one next door, it is very possible that that fence is actually on your neighbors land and all these years you have been encroaching on his property and unknowingly shoveling his sidewalk!

How can you know who the true owner of that strip of grass - if he doesn't shovel it, it means it’s yours, right? No!

You get a survey!

What is a Survey?

A survey is a drawing of the property that shows exactly where your property is located, the exact dimensions of our property as well as any structures on your property. A survey will disclose if any part of a structure on your property encroaches or projects onto a neighboring property or if a structure on your neighbor’s property encroaches or projects onto your property.

Why does it matter if there is an encroachment or projection on the property?

An encroachment means a structure that is attached to the ground rests on a neighboring property while a projection is a structure that hangs over a neighboring property, like an awning or air conditioner. A common encroachment example in a residential area is that that your neighbor’s fence is built upon two feet of your rear yard. If you don’t have a way to access that area of two feet since there is a fence, that would be considered “out of possession” and your title insurance policy will most likely not insure that area of land since you can’t access if from your property should a lawsuit be filed with respect to ownership of that two foot strip of land.

Projections are common with commercial properties that have awnings or other large vents that are attached to the building and project either onto a neighboring property or the sidewalk. Most commercial lenders will not lend on a commercial property unless there is a recent survey.

So when you go out to shovel later, don’t forget your survey…

...on second thought, just take the shovel and be a good neighbor!

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