Do I have to have a survey done before I can take someone to court over a property line dispute?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have to have a survey done before I can take someone to court over a property line dispute?

My property is a rectangle. My neighbors property runs
behind the one long side of my property. We have never
had any issues before until recently. The only evidence
I have of where my property line is is a photo from the
air provided by the county. He is putting up a fence on
what I feel is my property. I need to know if I can take
him to court or what I can do without a survey done. If
he is wrong and I have paid the expensive fee for a
survey would he have to then reimburse me for the cost?

Asked on July 31, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Tecchnically, you can file a lawsuit without a survey, since the courts don't "prescreen" lawsuits to see if they are valid before accepting them, but without a survey, you will lose. With a survey, you might still lose, such as if he has a survey showing something else and the court thinks his survey is better; but without one there is no chance of winning, so get it done before you bother filing the lawsuit.
2) No, even if you are right and he is wong, you'll still have to pay your own survey costs. In the American system, each party foots its own litigation expenses, including expert (which would include a survey) fees or expenses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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