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Contributor

Property Boundries

Does anybody know the rule on property boundries when a fence has been in place for more then 10 years. The neighbor had his farm that borders ours survied and he put a fence in on the property line. But when he got to his pasture fence that borders our farm he stopped. His fence is 10-15 feet on our property but he said he doesn't have to more it because it has been there for more then 10 years so its the new property line. Does anybody know if this is right or do we get a lawyer and fight it.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

 

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Property Boundries

I would get a lawyer, make sure he/she is competent in boundary issues.

 

Something in my memory says that if the other person can prove they paid taxes on the disputed land they have a better case.

If the fence 'line' is supposed to be on an original lot line then their tax bill would have to show lot 'a' and part of lot 'b' BUT remember I am not a lawyer.

 

I do think the old belief of just using the land for so many years makes it yours is untrue,

Check this site and see what you think.

 

http://plsurvey.com/wp/?p=94

Property owners sometimes mistakenly assume that an existing fence is the same as the property line. They are shocked to discover that the fence in question may be many feet in error when a survey is performed.

Unless the subject deed specifically refers to following a fence a competent land surveyor will consider the fence to be low in the evidence chain in comparison to other more favorable evidence called for in the deed. If the subject deed contains such language as “thence with a fence”, “along a fence” or “following a fence” then it is a safe bet that the fence is the property line if the fence in question is the original fence called for in the conveyance. Otherwise, the surveyor must follow the explicit instructions contained in the deed while ignoring the fence, unless the fence is the only remaining evidence of the boundary

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Honored Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

The neighbor is probably referring to the principle of "adverse possession".  The language in the law  usually says something to effect of having "openly and notoriously"  occupied or utilized the parcel in question for some statutory limit of time. 

 

Time to consult counsel. 

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Contributor

Re: Property Boundries

The laws on property boundary lines, adverse possession, and related situations vary widely from state to state.  And of course, the language in the law is not specific enough to cover every possible situation, so there will be legal precedents, that is to say, state court decisions in litigated situations that may apply to the situation you face as well (an example- Kay/NC mentioned the term “openly and notoriously” which is a common requirement in many states’ adverse possession laws.  But what exactly does that mean?  A court in your state may have ruled on a case with situation similar to the one you have, and the ruling may or may not be consistent with what your neighbor is saying about the fence.  The court might have ruled that just because some land is on the other side of a fence, it does not mean that a neighbor possessed it openly and notoriously).   My guess is your neighbor knows or has heard just enough on the subject (or had his kid google it), to think he knows what the law is and believes (or hopes) that you will accept what he says as right and go along with him. 

 

He might be right, but I doubt it’s as simple as he wants you to believe it is.  It sounds like this could work out to be a significant amount of land, certainly you stand to lose if you do nothing.  I strongly suggest that you find an attorney that has some experience in real estate law (I would look for one that has litigated some cases), and invest in some legal advice.  Gather as much information as you can on the situation you have- an old survey perhaps, anything like that.    You pay for the attorney’s time so make yourself an outline of the situation and all the facts you need to present, and a list of questions you want to ask, make effective use of the time you are paying for.  A good attorney will be willing to tell you if you have a good case or not and give some advice as to how to proceed.   It may be as simple as calling a bluff.   The law may be totally on your side, or it may be vague and you will have to do some negotiating.  If you are fortunate, you will be able to resolve this without going to court.

 

Hope this helps, but remember, free advice may only be worth what you pay for it.  Good luck!

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Senior Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

This is simple.  Get a good lawyer who is knowledgeable on the issue.  Don't quibble about the money.

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Contributor

Re: Property Boundries

The farm was survied about 2 monthes ago. I called the guy that survied it and he told me about adverse position and he said that the only way that the fence is determined the new boundry is by court of law. The neigbor has to prove that the fence is more then 10 years old and that both parties knew it was on my side. I contacted a lawyer and I'm waiting for a responce.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

Proving the date of the fence may be easy if the FSA aerials show it going back that far, and not being moved.  Proving that you "knew" the fence wasn't the line will be a horse of another color. 

 

What your neighbor is doing it shooting you the breeze, and hoping you will fall for it.  I have surveyed lines when necessary, and shoved people back to their side of them.  It takes some time and patience, but a good lawyer will handle it for you. 

 

Adverse possession takes more than just saying it's so. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

Don't forget to charge him rent. Smiley Happy
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Veteran Advisor

Re: Property Boundries

Tell your neighbor you don't believe his claims and have the land surveyed by a surveyor of your choosing at his cost. If that don't work and he can't just do the neighborly thing and just take his fence down. Tell him you will put up a 1,000 head hog finisher next to his property if he can't leave you alone..... Sounds funny but I have actually seen that happen and work. I would get a lawyer if this keeps up and let him know you plan to sue him for legal fees in the end. They don't make anymore land.... Don't let him steal yours.

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