Boundary disputes occur when two or more parties cannot agree on who owns or has rightful access to a property or a particular part of a property. The issue of substantial enclosures is common in such matters. So, what does the term mean and how does it relate to a disagreement over land rights? Below, the attorneys at Scott & Heenan, LLC, in Grant County, WI, answer these questions by sharing a brief guide to the topic below.
Understanding Substantial Enclosures
Substantial enclosure generally refers to the distinct boundaries of a piece of land, such as a fence. However, there is no one agreed-upon legal definition for how a property can be delineated, and what constitutes such a border varies from case to case. For instance, in past boundary disputes, judges determined that a substantial enclosure could be as minimal as a furrow dug around the area in question or even a clearing-away of brush as a makeshift property line. In other, cases, however, more defined boundaries, like rivers, cliffs, and drainage ditches, were denied that same legal definition.
Whether the property feature in your case is a legal substantial enclosure will depend on several factors, such as who installed it and if it is a naturally-occurring phenomenon. In cases of the latter, where lakes and mountains might form a natural border, courts tend to rule that they are not substantial enclosures from a legal perspective.
How They Impact Boundary Disputes
According to Wisconsin law, a property is adversely possessed if an individual continuously and exclusively occupies it under a claim of title for over 20 years and the land has a substantial enclosure. As such, the border is a factor in supporting adverse possession, especially in situations where the individual in question has used the land for a significant period. Though every case is different, you will likely have a valid legal argument if you can show that a substantial enclosure exists around the area in dispute.
If you face such a situation, the seasoned lawyers at Scott & Heenan, LLC, will help you make sense of substantial enclosures and the role they play in the boundary dispute. For more than 50 years, they have been representing clients in property law matters, providing quality guidance through every step of the process. Call (608) 348-9506 to set up a consultation today, or visit them online to learn more about their background and expertise.