As a real estate lawyer in San Antonio, Trey Wilson handles a variety of legal matters related to land ownership, including title, boundary, fence placement and roadway access disputes.
Trespass to Try Title
Trespass to Try Title is a legal claim by which a person claiming title or the right of possession to property may be determined by the Court. That is, a Trespass to Try Title lawsuit is a legal action designed to allow recovery of possession of land withheld from an owner with a right to immediate possession.
Causes of action for trespass to try title are governed by Chapter 22, Texas Property Code, and such actions are generally considered to be the exclusive method in Texas for adjudicating disputed claims of title to/ownership of real property. The paramount issue for the court to determine in a suit for trespass to try title is which party has superior title to the subject property.
Many times, trespass to try title lawsuits involve determination by the court of which of various competing /rival ownership claims is superior; that is, which party is the rightful owner of real estate and/or how ownership is apportioned among various parties.
To prevail in a trespass to try title claim, a party must recover on the strength of his own title, and only by proving specific elements.
As a real estate lawyer in San Antonio, I am well-versed in the legal standards for trespass to try title lawsuits, and the character of evidence needed to win these highly technical legal claims. I have handled numerous title lawsuits over my almost 20 year career as an attorney, and have intimate familiarity with the detailed pleading and proof requirements of Trespass to Try Title claims.
As a real estate lawyer in San Antonio, I handle lawsuits to partition real property. Chapter 23 of the Texas Property Code governs partition suits, and provides (in TEX. PROP. CODE § 23.002(a)) that a “joint owner or a claimant of real property or an interest in real property may bring an action to partition the property or interest in a district court of a county in which any part of the property is located.”
In lay terms, a “partition” is a legal mechanism/cause of action employed to divide real property amongst joint owners. Partition suits are available to joint owners of real property with joint rights of access or possession in virtually all circumstances.
There are two types of partition: (i) partition-in-kind; and (ii) partition by judicial sale. Partition by judicial sale is available only when a fair and equitable division of the real estate, or any part thereof, cannot be made. Whether property can fairly be partitioned in kind is a question of fact for the court to decide. It is also well settled law in Texas that mineral interests are susceptible to partition-in-kind, and the law favors such a partition.
If you share an ownership interest in real property, and need to divide your share from that of your co-owner, you should consult an experienced real estate lawyer to evaluate the feasibility of a partition lawsuit.
Encroachment / Boundary Disputes / Fence Line Disputes
My practice as a San Antonio real estate lawyer frequently involves boundary disputes, fence line disputes and claims arising from encroachments onto neighboring properties. Fence line disputes are often the most hotly contested cases in a Texas real estate lawyer’s inventory, and I have some great stories from my work in this area. To paraphrase Robert Frost “good fences make good neighbors,” but bad fences make great lawsuits.
Historically, a trespass to try title claim has been the exclusive method in Texas law for adjudicating disputed claims of title to real property including those arising from misplaced fences. This exclusivity of Trespass to Try Title remedies included determinations of title to small strips of land and boundaries between neighboring properties.
Fortunately, in 2007, the Texas Legislature added an exception to the rule when it adopted Section 37.004(c) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This statute provides that, notwithstanding the trespass to try title statute (Chapter 22 of the Texas Property Code), a person interested under a deed, will, written contract, or other writings constituting a contract may obtain a determination of title based on a property boundary line “when the sole issue concerning title to real property is the determination of the proper boundary line between adjoining properties.” TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE § 37.004(c); see TEX. PROP.CODE § 22.001(a).
Other causes of action, including suits for Declaratory Judgment and Trespass, are also available to address boundary disputes and remove physical encroachments. However, boundary /fence line disputes can be highly technical and frequently turn on historical treatment of the involved properties. For this reason, choosing an experienced real estate lawyer is of the utmost importance in these cases.