The information in this column is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not legal advice. Readers with legal problems, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult attorneys for advice on their particular circumstances.
Q: Our next door neighbor’s dog barks for hours at a time, and often all night long. When people walk by, or when we go into our backyard, they go crazy. What can we do to get this to stop?
A: You have several options, but none are all that great.
You could start by talking to your neighbors. Maybe they will be receptive to your request and start keeping the dogs inside their home.
If that gets you nowhere, you could call the police, constable or sheriff where you live, to see if they can get your neighbor to keep the dogs quiet. Unfortunately though, a barking dog is not typically a priority for law enforcement.
If that fails, consider hiring an attorney to write a letter threatening to sue, or if that fails, actually suing your neighbor claiming the dog is a nuisance. Your goal would be to a court order to keep the dog inside and quiet.
a last resort, you could move to a new home, one where you hopefully won’t have a barking dog next door.
Q: I bought my home from a seller using a Contract for Deed. The seller died before I had paid in full. How can I get the property out of his name and into my name?
A: You have several options, none of which are particularly simple.
First, you could track down all of the beneficiaries or heirs of the seller. He will have â€śbeneficiariesâ€ť if he died with a will and â€śheirsâ€ť if he died without a will. If his estate was probated and never formally closed, there might be a living executor who can sign a deed. Alternatively, all of the beneficiaries could sign a deed conveying their interests to you.
Second, you could file a lawsuit seeking a Declaratory Judgment or a lawsuit called a Trespass to Try Title suit. Either way, you would be asking the court to declare that you are now the owner of the property. Both of these lawsuits could be filed together in a single action.
Third, you could try to claim ownership through Adverse Possession. There are different ways to make this type of claim, but an easy approach is to record an Affidavit of Adverse Possession in the county where the property is located. To help establish that you are in fact the owner through adverse possession, you could find a title company willing to issue you a title policy insuring your interest in the property.
All of these approaches will likely require you to hire a real estate lawyer. Try to find one with experience in this type of matter.
Ronald Lipman, of Houston law firm Lipman & Associates, is board certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
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