Having a clear understanding of your property line is important for securing the appropriate insurance, ensuring your property is safe, and planning renovations or landscaping work. Plus, knowing your property line can help stave off disputes with neighbors. You don’t have to worry about putting up a fence or removing shrubbery — you will know the boundaries of your property and be able to work within it as you please.
Before purchasing a property, you may want to ask the current homeowner about the property line. If they are not able to provide you with the information or if you have already purchased the property, here is how you can uncover the property line.
How to Find Your Property Line for Legal Reasons
If you own a property and want to secure a legally sound definition of your property lines, the best move is to hire a land surveyor.
A land surveyor will assess your property, research land records, surveys, and titles, and help you identify the precise location of your property line.
A land surveyor’s determinations will stand up in court if there is some dispute over land ownership or property rights. If there is a chance that your property lines will be questioned and you are concerned about precision, or if you are planning to do significant work to your yard, save yourself the time and trouble of thumbing through old records and hire a professional to assess your property.
DIY Property Line Guide
If you need to determine your property line and do not need your findings to stand up in court, you can use one of the following methods to get a pretty good estimate of where your property ends.
Check Your Deed
If you have already purchased a property, you can learn more about the land you own by looking at the deed. The deed will describe the property in detail. It may offer landmarks to help define the scope of the property and measurements.
If you cannot access your deed, you can seek it online.
Find the Deed Online
You can search county records online to find a deed, which should have a detailed description of the land. Go to the online records portal for the appropriate county. For example, if I wanted to find a deed for the Tampa area, I would head to the Hillsborough County public records portal.
Input the name of the property owner and select ‘deed’ for the document type. If the information is publicly available, it should appear.
Once you know the boundaries of the property as described in the deed, you can either use landmarks to assess your property lines or measure to the dimensions described in the deed. The ease of this will depend on the age of the deed and whether the property has undergone changes. For example, if certain markers, like a particular tree, are mentioned on the deed but there is no longer a tree on the property, you will need to rely on a tape measure and compass.
As you are measuring, place a marker in the ground to keep your measurements precise and help you visualize the lines once you are done measuring. You can even leave these markers in the ground to help contractors or landscapers understand the bounds of your property.
Ask Your Lender or Title Insurance Company for the Land Survey
If your lender required a property survey as part of your mortgage approval process and you no longer have a copy of it, you can request a copy from your lender. Similarly, if your title company required a survey (also known as a boundary survey) before issuing a title, you may ask them for a copy.
Check County Records for Your Property Survey
If your county has completed a property survey that includes your property, you should be able to secure it from the county records office. There may be an associated fee to get a copy.
Check With the Local Zoning Department
New homes should have zoning documentation on file. Check with your county’s zoning department to see if they have a plat map on file for your property.
Get a Plat Map
If your county offers GIS plat maps, you can see if one exists for your property. A plat mat will show your land lot and how lots in your area are divided. It includes measurements and angles so you can mark your land if needed.
Use an App
Yes, there is even an app to help you find your property lines, or two, really. You can use either LandGlide or Landgrid Map to map your property. While I cannot speak to the accuracy of these apps, they do seem very convenient.
If you choose to get a plat map, look up your property survey, or use an app, you can use the information from those maps to physically mark your property. You will need a tape measure, rods, and a compass to measure and mark your property. Locate the starting point, known as the common point or POB, and place a marker there. Then follow the survey or map to identify which direction you should measure out the next marker and continue until you’re back at the POB.