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View Full Version : OT:Neighbor's fence on my property


cigarboo
09-21-2008, 06:12 PM
Hi all! I was thinking of asking this on the community board, but WOW! it's pretty politically intense over there. I'd rather not hang out there. Here's my problem, if anyone can help. I have a long driveway and a neighbor who I don't really know, put up a fence on my property. His house backs up to my driveway. When he first started putting up the fence DH went to ask if he had done a survey. He had not and showed my husband where he was going to put the fence. We weren't sure where the property line is also. When we came home, he had put the fence closer to our property. A couple days later I went to tell the neighbor that I had called a surveyor to come out and said if the fence is on my property, I would have to ask him to move it. So it turns out the fence is about 6 inches onto my property on one side and 2 feet on the other end. What should I do? Should I just let it go? I'm concerned about losing my rights to that area since he's fenced my property in and that down the line I'll end up with a jagged property line. I was hoping he'd see the stakes and kindly move the fence, but he hasn't yet. Not sure what the next step is, or whether I should even bring it up. His house is For Sale by owner at this point.

torinsmom
09-21-2008, 06:20 PM
I would make him move it, because when he sells, the new owners may not be told that the fence is on your property. They will end up having to move it, and that would not be fair to them. Since you spoke to your neighbor about it, he should have checked before he put it up.

Marsha

wall*e2008
09-21-2008, 06:24 PM
I would have him move it. What is the setback in your community?

mrsg00fy
09-21-2008, 06:52 PM
I would have him move it. What is holding you back from doing that? Are you afraid that your relationship will sour? He is moving anyway. I'm pretty sure that if you do not protest this now....that you could be in jeopardy of losing a portion of your property at some point.

thegrimdwarf
09-21-2008, 06:56 PM
Send him a certified letter requesting he remove his fence from your property. Include a copy of the survey, and give him whatever length of time you think is fair for him to resolve it. If he ignores you, you'll need to get a lawyer involved, which stinks because it's going to cost you $$ - but you definitely don't want that house changing hands without the fence issue resolved. You can be held liable for anything that happens *on your property*, even if there's a fence that would indicate otherwise.

My parents went through a similar problem with neighbors who fenced a pool and went 9" past the property line - it was a HUGE deal because of liability with the pool.

momslave3599
09-21-2008, 07:02 PM
Absolutely he needs to remove it. If he ends up staying and it isn't removed, that part of you property could become his if you allow the fence to stay. It would have to be that way for years, but it can happen. As a realtor, I've seen it happen twice!

Next, if he sells that property and it isn't addressed (is a survey required for sale in your state?) then the new owners have a load of trouble and that in turn brings bad vibes to your relationship with the new neighbors. So, DITTO, to above. Send a certified letter and notify your city of the issue.

Good luck!

marlynnp
09-21-2008, 07:05 PM
Send a certified letter to the neighbor, copy to city/borough/township, and copy to his realtor.

HeatherC
09-21-2008, 07:10 PM
Just curious about what would happen if you removed it yourselves. After all, it is on your property, right? Not that I'm suggesting that. But wondering legally if you can do this?

I'm thinking that if he won't remove it and you wind up having to get a lawyer, it might be easier that way. Then he winds up having to pay a lawyer...which he probably wouldn't do if he's moving anyway...instead of you having to.Does that make sense?

Just thinking out loud....

disneygal2007
09-21-2008, 07:21 PM
Just curious about what would happen if you removed it yourselves. After all, it is on your property, right? Not that I'm suggesting that. But wondering legally if you can do this?

I'm thinking that if he won't remove it and you wind up having to get a lawyer, it might be easier that way. Then he winds up having to pay a lawyer...which he probably wouldn't do if he's moving anyway...instead of you having to.Does that make sense?

Just thinking out loud....
I don't think them moving it would be a good idea. Feuds can start that way. Ask them first then if that doesn't work send them a letter with all the info about the property and the fence and do it that way.
Play the nice neighbor rule.

HeatherC
09-21-2008, 07:32 PM
Oh no, I wasn't suggesting they actually remove it. Just curious about the legality of doing so. I agree...much better to work things out friendly.

But if it got to the point of them having to pay a lawyer, I was just thinking in my head about how they could avoid doing that and thought "well it is on their property so why can't they take it down". Wondering if anyone knows if you actually could do that legally?

Best of luck to the OP.

cigarboo
09-21-2008, 07:39 PM
What is the setback in your community?
I don't think there is a setback. You can put a fence right up to the end of your property.

What is holding you back from doing that? Are you afraid that your relationship will sour?
I actually don't know the neighbor at all, until he took some trees down and put up a fence. My driveway is about 1000ft long and he backs up to my driveway about 600ft from my house. I just hate confrontation. Forced myself to talk to him the first time around to tell him a surveyer was coming and he wasn't too pleased... anyways, I'm afraid to see him again. I just wish people would be considerate. Hoping he got the hint when the stakes went up, but he hasn't moved it yet. I suppose I'll have to face him.

Thank you everyone for your input. I was tempted to just leave it alone for the sake of not ticking off the neighbor. The fence itself doesn't really bother me since I only drive by it and that side of my driveway is just trees and brush. But it seems I have no choice due to the liability and also losing the right to the property. Can someone come here and tell my neighbor for me??? :flower3:

hoosiergirl7
09-21-2008, 08:07 PM
I would ask him to move it and if he doesn't then you should consult with a lawyer.

We had a similar situation happen. We put in our fence first because we had dogs. Our neighbor next door then put up theirs and they linked into our fence without asking if we minded sharing. We were not happy as we spent a lot of money on our fence and well, they only ended up having to pay for 3 sides. It's not so much that we minded it was all about courtesy for us.

We consulted a JAG on our military installation and asked what we could do. They said due to the fact that this state has no laws governing such things, really there was nothing possible. He suggested we ask them to pay for part of the fence but they were under no obligation. So it pretty much was moot.

mytwinklestar
09-21-2008, 08:32 PM
Sounds as if this neighbor was trying to enhance the property for sale by adding the fence. It would be an injustice to the new owners, as much as it is for you, to have this issue come up after the sale. The fence MUST be moved. I have a neighbor who thinks that since he doesn't want unsightly things in his open yard, that he can put them against the side of my home or up against the back of our privacy fence. He had a broken riding lawn mower against our fence for months before we had to confront him - as he was NOT taking the direct requests that he remove this. His response? "I don't want that thing in MY yard. It has to be there so that we cannot see it from our patio." What the??? Hello??? This is NOT the first incident with this particular neighbor. He put sand bags, after Katrina, against our slab. (Termite invitation!) We moved them. He put them back. :mad: He did this three times before my DH took a knife to the sand bags and dumped them out over the property line. Some people do not respect other's property. You MUST stand up to the bully sometimes. Sounds as if this is an appropriate time to take a stance. Educate yourself about the law. Let the law be your courage. Good luck to you.

The Disney Bunch
09-22-2008, 06:58 AM
Have him move it - It is not in compliance with the town ordinances. You will be forfeiting that piece of property if you don't nip it in the bud now. It is going to make for hard feelings but he should have checked it our before putting the fence up. Did a fence company put it up or did he do it himself? Did he check with the town? Our town requires a permit to put a fence up. check it all out - it will be hard now but but easier later.

tripplanner
09-22-2008, 08:02 AM
Absolutely he needs to remove it. If he ends up staying and it isn't removed, that part of you property could become his if you allow the fence to stay. It would have to be that way for years, but it can happen. As a realtor, I've seen it happen twice!



I saw this happen with my relatives. They lived side by side. A fence was constructed that overlapped with the parents lot. The parents just let it go. Many years later the son and his wife divorced, sold the house, and with it went part of the parents land. I would definitely take care of this now. You need to take care of your own interests in this case.

astro784
09-22-2008, 08:17 AM
I told my husband about this last night - he is a civil engineer/land surveyor- his reply was that you need to take care of this now and the neighbor needs to move the fence. He said they see this happen alot and if you let it go for too long you will forfeit that piece of property.

Good Luck!

DVCLiz
09-22-2008, 08:51 AM
Here's a question from the opposite side of the fence, so to speak. I have a chain link fence all the way around my property (it's hideously ugly and I plan to replace it some day). It's on the property line on both sides and in the front, but the back part isn't all on the property line. But, it comes in about two feet towards my house, so technically I own about two feet further than the fence. If I want to replace my fence along the back, can I still put up the new one on the property line, even though it would then "encroach" into the area the neighbors now have access to?

I don't think it will be a problem for them because I back up to the woodsy area of their yard, and after all, it IS my property. I just didn't know if fencing only a portion of your yard means you forfeit that property the same way it would if the neighbors had put a fence two feet over the line on my property.

Does that make sense?:rotfl:

Octoberbabiesrus
09-22-2008, 10:33 AM
Been there earlier this year with this.

My lawyer laid out the options to us, and I will share her options.

Sue them for the sale of the land they encroached on. (meaning...force them to buy the land)

Ask them to purchase the land they encroached on.

They remove, or move back the fence.

welovespacemoutain
09-22-2008, 11:14 AM
Here's a question from the opposite side of the fence, so to speak. I have a chain link fence all the way around my property (it's hideously ugly and I plan to replace it some day). It's on the property line on both sides and in the front, but the back part isn't all on the property line. But, it comes in about two feet towards my house, so technically I own about two feet further than the fence. If I want to replace my fence along the back, can I still put up the new one on the property line, even though it would then "encroach" into the area the neighbors now have access to?

I don't think it will be a problem for them because I back up to the woodsy area of their yard, and after all, it IS my property. I just didn't know if fencing only a portion of your yard means you forfeit that property the same way it would if the neighbors had put a fence two feet over the line on my property.

Does that make sense?:rotfl:

It does make sense. I am not sure, but I believe that if you do not maintain that area and the neighbor does, they could argue that it is theirs. So, make sure you take care of that strip of land. Also, you should make sure the back corners of your lot are clearly marked with flags or stakes. As far as building right up to the property line, check with your city for setback codes.

tiggger1
09-22-2008, 11:34 AM
I know there is an ordinance in my town that states that all fences must be 2 feet from the property line. So as long as you maintain it you should be fine.

YellowMickeyPonchos
09-22-2008, 11:51 AM
Call his realtor and make sure they know the whole story and give them a copy of the survey. A reputable realtor will also step in and say something to their client. They don't want it on their heads - they could be sued for not disclosing an issue with the property boundaries.

In addition, if you are worried/afraid about going to the neighbors and having a face to face confrontation, let the city do the job for you.

If you are pretty certain that he never pulled a permit for it, then contact the city and file an official grievance. Let them know your neighbor built a fence on your property line without a survey and that you got one afterwards when you were informed something was wrong. If you live in a normal community, you can bet that an inspector will be out quickly to review the situation and levy fines for violations.

The city can mandate they move it, or give you the authority to tear it down. If he's moving, no love lost.

IntercomGroupPage
09-22-2008, 12:01 PM
My neighbor put an ugly chain link fence all around the front of his house, and he never bothered getting a permit.

Town came in the day after it was done and told him he had 48 hours to take it out. Needless to say it's gone.

You have recourse with that alone.

chrisw127
09-22-2008, 01:07 PM
I would explain what you found out about the survey and ask him to move it. There's a concept in the law called adverse possession, where if someone is encroaching on your land and you are aware of it but do nothing about it, they can eventually lay claim legally to that property. BUT, in most states there's a requirement that they do this for 10 years, so you and your neighbor have plenty of time to take care of it. The only way it's an issue immediately is if one of you are trying to sell your house.

Sounds like an honest mistake on your neighbor's part. Good luck.

Mickeypooh99
09-22-2008, 01:48 PM
Property rights are a very sensitive issue with me. We own 10 acres, and we can't see our entire property from our house. The back acre is neighbored by a man who's driveway comes off the side street. He started out parking his cars under our trees for the shade. We said nothing. He built a shed right on the property line, which is breaking the requirements for setback. We chose to say nothing. Then he started throwing his lumber scraps, shingles, etc. behind the shed which put it on our property. Still we said nothing. One day I walked back there to find a man covering a boat for the winter on our property. I asked who he was and he said he was Mike's (neighbors) brother. I said do you know this is our property. He said no he thought it was mike's property. I could see he was embarassed. Next thing Mike parked a camper on our property, and had a large propane tank delivered and filled to supply camper. The tank was on our property. We decided that was the final straw. I made my husband deal with it, as I hate confrontation. He called and offered Mike to buy our 1 acre of property for a high amount, or to clear his stuff off the property. He tried to talk us down to a less amount, but since we really didn't want to sell we said no. Then he laughed and said he didn't blame us for being upset. He proceeded to move his junk over to his own property. Which he has 18 acres of his own, so why he felt the need to use ours is beyond me.

We settled that issue. Now if we could just get him to keep his 2 large dogs off our property.....

HGD24
09-22-2008, 02:24 PM
I'm pretty sure that after so many years, the neighbor could claim the land as his. We built in a development with a field in back of our house. We mowed the field back about 15 feet beyond our property line just becuase it looked nicer and helped keep the mosquitos away. The city made us put up bushes (they had to approve the type) on our property line so that we could not come back in so many years and claim the land that we were mowing as ours (which we did not intend to do). We continued to mow it, but with the understanding that the bushes were the property line and we did not own beyond that.

I say as much as you hate confrontation, you shouldn't be taken advantage of. You're paying taxes on that land and you have every right to it. Send a certified letter along with the survey results.

cigarboo
09-22-2008, 05:21 PM
OK, I'm the OP and DH went to talk to the neighbor today... So it turns out he's a pastor and they are in financial trouble, so they have to sell the house. That's why they didn't spend the money to do the survey. They came from California where apparently, people don't get too ruffled about property lines. Anyways, he's hoping that we'll just agree that the fence now belong to us so that he doesn't have to move it. He said he can have his lawyer friend draw up some papers to say the fence is ours and he hopes we won't take the fence down.... How does that sound??? Would something like that work to protect my property line?

You DISers are the BEST!:thumbsup2

Belle4mygrl
09-22-2008, 05:29 PM
I am confused.

So, he knew he put the fence up on your property and was hoping your feathers wouldn't get ruffled?? I think the fence would be gone UNLESS the documents are very explicit.

TinaLala
09-22-2008, 05:36 PM
Make him move it. My parents have the same problem, but it occurred with the previous owner and now that the neighbor's house has turned over the cost to have the property lines re-established is big bucks.

He should have had the land surveyed prior to putting up the fence in the first place - that's what a good neighbor would have done. If he sees no problem in putting the fence on your yard, whatelse is he going to do?

This is your land and whose to say that the new owners aren't going to 'assume' that the fence is theirs and take over your property line. Tell him to take down the fence. Give him 30 days to take it down or I think you can get an injunction demanding the fence come down.

YellowMickeyPonchos
09-22-2008, 06:17 PM
I'd say that if he has a lawyer or better yet, you have your lawyer draw up the papers, and he maybe he sells the fence to you for a dollar, then you are perfectly fine - as long as you like the fence.

What a nice and slightly expensive present from him! I would then go and buy some bushes to plant in the 6 inches to 2 foot wide remaining property space to mark the rest of your property line! Just a few, so that you can string a straight line between them and mark it out!

pixiewings71
09-22-2008, 07:57 PM
OK, I'm the OP and DH went to talk to the neighbor today... So it turns out he's a pastor and they are in financial trouble, so they have to sell the house. That's why they didn't spend the money to do the survey. They came from California where apparently, people don't get too ruffled about property lines. Anyways, he's hoping that we'll just agree that the fence now belong to us so that he doesn't have to move it. He said he can have his lawyer friend draw up some papers to say the fence is ours and he hopes we won't take the fence down.... How does that sound??? Would something like that work to protect my property line?

You DISers are the BEST!:thumbsup2

HUH?? I'm IN CA and people are constantly ruffled about property lines! LOL He's pulling your chain by saying that. Trust me, no one but no one gets away with what he did in CA! LOL Sorry, I have no other advice but wanted to clear that misinformation up for you. Good luck!

hereyago
09-22-2008, 08:01 PM
Time to whip out Mr. Chainsaw-lol.

Seriously, have his lawyer draw up papers for a fence that you didn't get a permit for kand possibly get you in trouble? Um,no.

CRdisMom
09-22-2008, 08:40 PM
poession is 9/10th of the law. Do what you can to get it dixed. having it resolved before the house is sold is the best thing. good luck

cigarboo
09-23-2008, 09:51 AM
I'd say that if he has a lawyer or better yet, you have your lawyer draw up the papers, and he maybe he sells the fence to you for a dollar, then you are perfectly fine - as long as you like the fence.


Sounds like good advice, but I'm just curious... What is the advantage of having him sell me the fence versus just giving it to me. Would that give me more protection down the line as far as my ability to do what I want with the fence in the future? I would have preferred the trees that used to line the property line, rather than the fence, but what's done is done, so I'll tolerate it as I understand his circumstance. However, now it's my problem to maintain it. If in 10-15 yrs the fence gets too old, I would like to retain my right to take it down.

HGD24
09-23-2008, 09:59 AM
This still doesn't resolve the issue of the property line. If you keep the fence, part of your property is still on the other side of that fence and could become his or the new owner's property.

Also, do you really want to deal with the maintenance and upkeep of the fence? Wood fences rot and need to have boards replaced, chain fences can rust and have pieces that stick out where people and kids can get cut on them. I wouldn't want the liability and responsibility of owning the fence.


ETA - "could become"

tlbwriter
09-23-2008, 10:03 AM
This still doesn't resolve the issue of the property line. If you keep the fence, part of your property is still on the other side of that fence and becomes his or the new owner's property.

Not necessarily. You are allowed to have a fence inside your property line - it doesn't mean you automatically cede the rest of your property. In this case, the land has been surveyed and it is staked. If the OP gets some permanent survey markers, and the new buyers are informed exactly where the property line is, it shouldn't be a problem - as long as the entire fence is on the OP's property. If it crosses the property line, it gets trickier, and I'd just have the whole thing torn down.

w-family
09-23-2008, 10:37 AM
I actually practice real estate law, this is not a legal opinion, it is an observation, based on the state law of where I practice.
Some states have what is called adverse possession. Your neighbor can claim by having the fence up, and you having knowledge of it and not doing anything, that he has claim to that portion of land as his. It is a set period of time based on the general laws of your state. You should consult with an attorney because you need to send them a specific type of letter disputing the fence. Don't remove the fence - that is called self help and is usually not allowed in most states. Best of luck.

rt2dz
09-23-2008, 11:34 AM
Not necessarily. You are allowed to have a fence inside your property line - it doesn't mean you automatically cede the rest of your property. In this case, the land has been surveyed and it is staked. If the OP gets some permanent survey markers, and the new buyers are informed exactly where the property line is, it shouldn't be a problem - as long as the entire fence is on the OP's property. If it crosses the property line, it gets trickier, and I'd just have the whole thing torn down.

Yes, but I'm assuming that the right side of the fence is connected to a backside and front side and they are in turn connected to the left side of the fence and the house putting the OP's property inside the fence. Why would someone just fence a side of their house? Bushes or not, the property will become part of the property of the neighbor's house. It would be impossible for the OP to maintain it.

Here, there is no set back line; fences go on the property line. Many neighbors share the upkeep of the fence. If one neighbor doesn't care and one does, it falls onto the one who cares to maintain it. Fences aren't required and you can't force someone to maintain it as long as it doesn't go against the HOA/POA covenants. That goes for costs too. Just the way the cookie crumbles.

OP--If I were you, despite the circumstances, I'd have the fence moved. If your neighbor put it up himself, he can move it himself--it's mostly just labor. You or your DH can offer to help if you'd like to be helpful. If he paid to have someone install it, he might be able to get them to move it, depending on the circumstances.

cigarboo
09-23-2008, 12:55 PM
Yes, but I'm assuming that the right side of the fence is connected to a backside and front side and they are in turn connected to the left side of the fence and the house putting the OP's property inside the fence. Why would someone just fence a side of their house?

In this case, the fence is only 1 sided because the neighbor wanted to have some privacy between the back of his house and my driveway that runs along the back of his house. I agree, it's going to be a pain in the rear for me to deal with, but I'm also trying to be a "good" neighbor. Another house faces right into the back of his house.

The surveyer did put in two permanant stakes on either side of the fence marking the property line and my neighbor has a few trees in front of the fence(on his side) which more or less line the actual property line.

I really appreciate all of you chiming in on my little problem. It really helps in deciding what to do. Making him move the fence seems the cleanest way to go... but I just hate to be mean.

YellowMickeyPonchos
09-23-2008, 01:08 PM
After reading some of the other advice, I change my position and agree. Removing the fence is the best thing.

What if the new neighbor decides to throw up a fence the connects to the existing one at 90 degrees? Then that new neighbor has sealed in the property line. It definitely needs to come down.

PS - the comment I made about the dollar was partially real advice. You know how sometimes things can't be gifted, due to taxes and such, but can be "sold"? I believe that this is often used in relation to things that pass between relatives. If it's sold, then there is an official sales contract. I remember hearing about people having to do that for legal reasons, and maybe someone could take that further and give us all more info.

eclairemom
09-23-2008, 01:12 PM
Oh it's a privacy fence and it's all on your property. I'd have him put in in writing that it's yours and I would keep it. You never who will buy the place and you may wish you had it later.

disneymarie
09-23-2008, 11:32 PM
Hi all! I was thinking of asking this on the community board, but WOW! it's pretty politically intense over there. I'd rather not hang out there. Here's my problem, if anyone can help. I have a long driveway and a neighbor who I don't really know, put up a fence on my property. His house backs up to my driveway. When he first started putting up the fence DH went to ask if he had done a survey. He had not and showed my husband where he was going to put the fence. We weren't sure where the property line is also. When we came home, he had put the fence closer to our property. A couple days later I went to tell the neighbor that I had called a surveyor to come out and said if the fence is on my property, I would have to ask him to move it. So it turns out the fence is about 6 inches onto my property on one side and 2 feet on the other end. What should I do? Should I just let it go? I'm concerned about losing my rights to that area since he's fenced my property in and that down the line I'll end up with a jagged property line. I was hoping he'd see the stakes and kindly move the fence, but he hasn't yet. Not sure what the next step is, or whether I should even bring it up. His house is For Sale by owner at this point.

Most communties have zoning officers and there is set back and rules to follow to have anything like sheds, pools, burning etc...and Fences. There must be a survey done, yes pursue it, 'But I would go to the zoning office and see the ordinance and then decide if you should, cite it and send a letter for courtious means first. Explain, while he is the current owner, you are concerned that if wither one of you were to sell there could potentially be problems. If he does not move it, then let the zoning office get involved.

If it were you, I am sure you would have talked it over first and asked about these things, he is BOLD and CHEAP!
Who cares about feelings when he did not, protect your property rights, what if he claims you gave up that land.
Good luck
di

tlbwriter
09-24-2008, 09:59 AM
Making him move the fence seems the cleanest way to go... but I just hate to be mean.

You are not being mean. Tell him to move the fence.