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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 32154
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I am planning on selling my property. My neighbor joined on

Customer Question

I am planning on selling my property. My neighbor joined on the back yard/ pool area contacted my realtor as I live abroad. The neighbor claims that she contacted a surveyor as her the property line in not where the fence is and that I should move the fence one foot to my disadvantage.
I live in REdwood city ca. I believe there is a law that says if a fence has been there for more than x years (fence has been there 40+ years) that can stay like this and we can use it but don't own it. Is that so? I don't want to put a new fence down.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. I don't have access to the local ordinances of Redwood City, so it is possible there could be something in the local ordinances, but that's not usually where these laws come from. Usually they are a result of what is known as "adverse possession". The requirements of each state are different and in CA they are a littler more confusing than most. Adverse possession is essentially where you don't own the land but you acquire it through taking possession of it and using it. The timer period required depends on the circumstances but it would be, at most, twenty years and so you have possessed the land for more than the sufficient amount of time. There are other issues regarding the paying of taxes on the land, etc. and to know for sure whether you are likely to meet the requirements you would need to sit down with a local lawyer and have them review the facts and your deed work. In addition, to acquire paperwork showing that you own the land you would have to sue for it in court. Please ask any follow up questions in this thread.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

Ok but I thought you never own the land but can use it.. Can you explain the tax issue on it.. I have heard that too but does that mean that you must have had paid taxes on it the past twenty years? Also adverse possession you say means court.. Obviously as I am selling I don't want that. Nobody would buy my house if there was a court case on it.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.
The tax issue generally means you paid taxes on it. However, you may have been paying taxes on it and just don't realize it. That's one of the things the lawyer will have to look at. Since it is such a small amount of land it would be easy for that amount to be added onto your taxes and you would never notice (but, of course, the same thing applies to the neighbor). You can own the land by virtue of adverse possession so you don't really have to go to court for that. What you go to court for is to prove that you own it, which is different. As to selling the house, there is likely going to be an issue in the sale. The title company is going to catch that a portion of the land is fenced in and yet not owned by you. They may tell you that you have to move the fence, they may refuse to insure the title, or they may just write it as an exclusion to the policy. You won't know the answer to that until they actually do something.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

Well this issue has never come up when we bought 4 years ago and the people before me were there 5 years and was also not brought up, I know that.

My neigbhour is a very difficult neighbour and she wants that foot of land so she wont give it. If she refuses anyway, its going to be a struggle. no?

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.
If she refuses or wants to cause trouble then it will be an issue. She could file a lawsuit asking that the court order you to move your fence and then file a lis pendens, which is a notice that there is litigation involving the land. That will mess up any sale you have in the works. That's just one example.

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