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Residential boundary dispute

1,935 Views | 20 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by CS78
forumjunkie
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Need some thoughts on this scenario from the supremely knowledgeable Outdoor Board...

We moved into my house about a 1.5 yrs ago. We need to get some work done to the home and I had an updated survey ordered. We found that the wooden fence on the side of the home is not sitting on the property line. It's off 2-feet in one spot and almost 3-feet off further down the fence line, favoring my neighbor on property she doesn't own.

We have a very small lot in a high property value area...every square foot counts. The next door lady claims the fence has been in that spot for over 50 years. The property boundary survey is crystal clear that the fence needs to be moved. She hung up the phone on me and claimed the survey company was crap, which they're not. She claims that the existing fence is now the "official" property line after all that time.

I'm determining next steps now and curious if there are any legal thoughts on this.

Not sure we'll have to get an atty just yet but just curious what the Outdoor Board has to say about this.

Thanks in advance!
BearJew13
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AG
Did your title company not require a survey when you bought the house?
forumjunkie
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Yes...I have a copy of that one, from 1993. It was an older sketch but it does show the property line where it is shown today. The wooden fence is not referenced on that older survey.
el_scorcho
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AG
Any idea of neighbor built the fence or can prove she paid for it?
BearJew13
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AG
So I assume the fence didn't show up as an exception on your title policy? If not, and you had a encroachment endorsement on your title policy (T19.1) you may have a claim with your title company. Not a lawyer btw.
MemphisAg1
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AG
For a fence that's been there 50 years, confrontation isn't the way to go. Look up "adverse possession."

What do you really stand to gain vs. losing? Is a nasty relationship with a neighbor really worth a few thousand bucks? And it's not even certain you'll get it.

When you bought the property, you apparently felt comfortable with it "as-is." To insist now that she owes you something doesn't smell right.
bmc13
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AG
is this the time when one would tear down the fence?
iamtheglove
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I have a similar situation. My fence is inside the property line by anywhere from 6 inches to 4 feet, favoring 2 neighboring properties. Did some research and found if a boundary is established like a fence and the non-owner has been using the other person's property as their own they may have a claim to the property. As I recall, "using it as their own" was kind of the key, such as them building something like a shed on it or planting trees or putting in a walkway or patio.

I shared my survey with both neighbors to let them know where to property line is and did it in email as well to create a record. No idea if this provides sufficient protection. Also verbally advised one neighbor to not build anything on the property (he was redoing his backyard with a new patio that could have extending onto my property.)

I would think a consultation with lawyer is probably in order for you if your neighbor is trying to claim the property on her side of the fence. I do think she may have to prove she actually did something with the property as noted above.
forumjunkie
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I certainly don't feel that I'm "owed" anything...Just want what is rightfully mine what I'm paying for in taxes.

Also, when we move in the coming years, the issue is likely to come up (for me & her) with the next buyers.

We were rushed when we bought the home. I noticed it, looked at the '93 survey and made the mistake of assuming it wouldn't be an issue when the fence needed to be replaced...which is now.
phorizt
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Send her a bill with interest for all of the property taxes you have paid over the past 28 years for the property on her side of the fence. Then see if she changes her tune on moving the fence.
ElephantRider
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AG
forumjunkie said:

Yes...I have a copy of that one, from 1993. It was an older sketch but it does show the property line where it is shown today. The wooden fence is not referenced on that older survey.

Always get a new survey, especially if the old one was from 1993 and was clearly not current
Anchorhold
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Fifty year old wood fence and storms with heavy wind gusts this week? Does the neighbor have cameras in the back yard?

Mas89
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AG
Are the two surveys from 93 and the new one clear on the two property corners location? Are these two points clearly marked and identified? If so tear down the old fence which is entirely on your property and build the new fence just inside your property line. Drive an iron sucker rod on your side of each corner, tie a string line between the two points, and keep all construction just inside the line.
Don't worry about the neighbor. Your fence on your property.

normaleagle05
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AG
forumjunkie said:

Need some thoughts on this scenario from the supremely knowledgeable Outdoor Board...

We moved into my house about a 1.5 yrs ago. We need to get some work done to the home and I had an updated survey ordered. We found that the wooden fence on the side of the home is not sitting on the property line. It's off 2-feet in one spot and almost 3-feet off further down the fence line, favoring my neighbor on property she doesn't own.

We have a very small lot in a high property value area...every square foot counts. The next door lady claims the fence has been in that spot for over 50 years. The property boundary survey is crystal clear that the fence needs to be moved. She hung up the phone on me and claimed the survey company was crap, which they're not. She claims that the existing fence is now the "official" property line after all that time.

I'm determining next steps now and curious if there are any legal thoughts on this.

Not sure we'll have to get an atty just yet but just curious what the Outdoor Board has to say about this.

Thanks in advance!

Sight unseen, I'd venture a guess she's right on this point. And I own a survey company.
Snow Monkey Ambassador
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AG
MemphisAg1 said:

For a fence that's been there 50 years, confrontation isn't the way to go. Look up "adverse possession."

What do you really stand to gain vs. losing? Is a nasty relationship with a neighbor really worth a few thousand bucks? And it's not even certain you'll get it.

When you bought the property, you apparently felt comfortable with it "as-is." To insist now that she owes you something doesn't smell right.
If it's a platted neighborhood in Texas, adverse possession in this kind of scenario is essentially impossible. Which, honestly, is all the more reason to do nothing.
Snow Monkey Ambassador
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AG
normaleagle05 said:

forumjunkie said:

Need some thoughts on this scenario from the supremely knowledgeable Outdoor Board...

We moved into my house about a 1.5 yrs ago. We need to get some work done to the home and I had an updated survey ordered. We found that the wooden fence on the side of the home is not sitting on the property line. It's off 2-feet in one spot and almost 3-feet off further down the fence line, favoring my neighbor on property she doesn't own.

We have a very small lot in a high property value area...every square foot counts. The next door lady claims the fence has been in that spot for over 50 years. The property boundary survey is crystal clear that the fence needs to be moved. She hung up the phone on me and claimed the survey company was crap, which they're not. She claims that the existing fence is now the "official" property line after all that time.

I'm determining next steps now and curious if there are any legal thoughts on this.

Not sure we'll have to get an atty just yet but just curious what the Outdoor Board has to say about this.

Thanks in advance!

Sight unseen, I'd venture a guess she's right on this point. And I own a survey company.
Yeah, in my last house the survey was off by a slight margin . . . of more than 20 feet. Residential survey companies are generally crap.
Doc Hayworth
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First, contact a Real Estate Atty.

Things to remember:

1) Platted Property doesn't change. The property lines are where the monuments are set, not where a fence was constructed. Fences are built by unskilled, unlicensed laborers, not licensed Surveyors.

2) Adverse Possession is not automatic. The claimant still has to file on it. Just because a fence has been in place for an extended period of time does not constitute ownership, especially when evidence can be found (corner monuments) to the contrary.

3) If the previous Surveyor did his job correctly, I would guess there are iron rods in the ground where the Plat calls for the boundary.

4) It may be difficult, but try to get a copy of the Survey for your neighbors lot. My guess would be that it is contiguous to your lot and will show the fence was constructed outside their property.

5) Check Title Commitment and see what exceptions the title company listed in Schedule B referring to the fence or property lines.

I can not tell you how many times in my career, I've run across people that intentionally have their fences misplaced to try to gain more land. And how PO'd they were when my survey would not back them up on their claims.
hillcountryag86
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AG
MemphisAg1 said:

For a fence that's been there 50 years, confrontation isn't the way to go. Look up "adverse possession."

What do you really stand to gain vs. losing? Is a nasty relationship with a neighbor really worth a few thousand bucks? And it's not even certain you'll get it.

When you bought the property, you apparently felt comfortable with it "as-is." To insist now that she owes you something doesn't smell right.
I see your point and agree that a few thousand dollars isn't worth bad relations with a neighbor.

But, what about when this property is eventually sold? Issue needs to be resolved to protect the future sale.
D206
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AG
I just dealt with this. Had a fence by my driveway that was 7' off at the back of the property and 2' off at the front. I talked to the neighbor and paid for the whole new fence and threw in an extra walking gate on their side. I really think the best bet is to talk to them. I'd probably wait until the fence needs to be replaced.
D206
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AG
Maybe just ask them if they have their survey because your new one looks different than the current lay out and see if they offer up that they know the fence is on your property.
CS78
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Yep, move your fence. If she doesn't like it, let her be the one to file suit.
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