Real Estate Litigation

Boundary Line Disputes – Construction of Deeds and other Instruments

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion. 

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Burkett v. Stevens, No. E2022-01186-COA-R3-CV, p. 5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 28, 2023).

“The interpretation of a deed is a question of law.” Hughes v. New Life Dev. Corp., 387 S.W.3d 453, 466 (Tenn. 2012) (citations omitted). In Jones v. Haynes, we stated as follows concerning restrictive covenants:

Tennessee has long-standing rules regarding restrictive covenants. Under Tennessee law restrictive covenants are valid but are disfavored because they act as an impediment to the free use and enjoyment of land. “Therefore, restrictive covenants are to be strictly construed and will not be extended by implication and any ambiguity in the restriction will be resolved against the restriction.” Waller v. Thomas, 545 S.W.2d 745 (Tenn. App. 1976).

Jones v. Haynes, No. 03A01-9707-CH-00241, 1998 WL 331311, at *2 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 24, 1998), no appl. perm. appeal filed. “[A] restrictive covenant will be given a fair and reasonable meaning according to the intent of the parties, which may be determined with reference both to the language of the covenant and to the circumstances surrounding its making.” Parks v. Richardson, 567 S.W.2d 465, 467-68 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1977) (citations omitted).

Waterfront Investments, GP v. Collins, No. E2022-00370-COA-R3-CV, p. 7 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 4, 2023).

Deed interpretation is a question of law and is reviewed de novo with no presumption of correctness. Griffis v. Davidson Cnty. Metro. Gov’t, 164 S.W.3d 267, 274 (Tenn. 2005) (citing Rodgers v. Burnett, 65 S.W. 408, 411 (Tenn. 1901)).

Garabrant v. Chambers, No. E2021-00128-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 1, 2022)

As this Court has previously elucidated: “The construction of deeds and other instruments and documents and their legal effect as to boundaries is a question of law. What boundaries the grant or deed refers to is a question of law; where those boundaries are on the face of the earth is a question of fact.” Hong v. Foust, No. E2011-00138- COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 388448, at *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2012) (quoting 12 Am. Jur. 2d Boundaries § 121 (1997)). As such, we “review the trial court’s finding as to the true location of the [party’s] boundary line as a finding of fact that is entitled to the presumption of correctness.” Id. Based upon our thorough review of the evidence presented at trial, we determine that the preponderance of the evidence supports the trial court’s findings concerning the location of the boundaries of the Chamberses’ property as including the disputed property.


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