Boundary Line Adjustment vs. Boundary Line Agreement?

What's the difference?

In both cases, a boundary line between two adjacent property owners is being changed or adjusted.  The key differences are questions of jurisdiction and purpose. A Boundary Line Adjustment is usually sought if owners merely desire to exchange land and there is no dispute over the line.

In the case of a Boundary Line Adjustment, sometimes also referred to as a Lot Line Adjustment, the jurisdiction is with the local planning authority, either the county or city in which the property lies.  A Boundary Line Adjustment involves an application, review fees and the requirement to meet the review criteria of the reviewing agency.  

If owners are attempting to use a Boundary Line Adjustment to resolve a dispute, issues not directly related to the resolution of the conflict can come into play as a result of the requirement to meet the review criteria of the city or county.  These “side” issues include such matters as resolving substandard access to the public road and meeting bulk zoning regulations such as lot width and area.  A Boundary Line Adjustment, then, is an Administrative action by the city or county planning authority.

In contrast, a Boundary Line Agreement is a judicial action.  The Washington State Legislature has given you, the property owner, the ability to resolve conflicts resulting from either poorly written deeds or encroachments.  Read the law here.  To keep these cases out of the courts, property owners have been granted the ability to adjudicate the dispute among themselves.  The kinds of disputes which arise could be as minor as a fence that veers away from the deeded property line, or as serious as a building on the wrong property.   The conflict may be recent or it may have existed for decades.  Whatever the reason, to be good neighbors, the conflict needs to be resolved.  Typically, in the case of an Agreement to settle a dispute in the location of the boundary line, the exchange of land does not result in monetary compensation. 

A few advantages of a Boundary Line Agreement versus a Boundary Line Adjustment

Once the neighbors come to a verbal agreement, they can complete the process without the review of the local planning department.  Issues which might make approval of a Boundary Line Adjustment application problematic may not need to be addressed. 

Don't know what you need for a BLA?  Click Here for our follow-up article.