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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
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When I was in college and taking a lot of law classes (thought

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When I was in college and taking a lot of law classes (thought I wanted to be an attorney, lol), I took AG Law. There were 2 things that I learned (now this was in 1983-1986) and I wondered if they were still in play. This is in Missouri.

Not sure what they were called...too many years ago!

1. If a fence line remains in place for 7 years - that becomes the actual property line no matter what a survey says. This happened to me, the owner didn't fight it - it's a farm and the amount of land was minimal - he had put the fence up about 3 or 4 feet inside his property line - which amounted to about an acre of land. But I'm wondering if this still applies. My saddleclub is having a boundary dispute with a psycho neighbor.

2. Another law in Missouri that is not well known is the upkeep of fence lines. It says that all property owners should share equally in the upkeep. Well, we are a farm that is now surrounded by subdivisions. We have SEVEN neighbors! 3 of those neighbors wanted to help, the others did not. We did not force the issue...bad neighbors are for life (unless you can move). Just wondered if that law is still there.

3. One last one dealing with Ag Law again. I know this was in effect 5 years ago, because someone cut my daughters fence, horse got out, got hit, and the car driver (who admitted she was not looking at the road - how do you miss a 1200 lb horse crossing your path on a level road!!!) tried to get her insurance to pay. They did not have to pay since we (Missouri) still have open range law and even if we didn't, as long as fences are kept up, then the landowner is not responsible. Do we still have open range laws? Our insurance company said most insurance companies do not like this law so do not tell the landowners about this.

Ok, thanks for your help. Lots of questions here!

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

1. You're talking about adverse possession - the idea that when someone uses and occupies someone's land for long enough, he gains the legal right to do so. That time period in Missouri is 10 years.

2. All property owners must share in the upkeep of shared fences. It would be very rare to have a fence shared by multiple people. Each person pays for a proportion of what is on his property. That means that if you had a fence that touched three properties equally, all three property owners would pay 1/3. If there are 7 people with various fences, each has to pay for the parents that touch his land. If the owner's can't agree, either of them may go to court requiring the others to contribute to the repairs. Section 272.060 and 272.070. The judgment can be used to put a lien on the property.

3. If the horse broke through the fence, then the horse's owner is liable for any damage caused. Section 272.030. If someone else left the fence open, that person could be liable to the horse's owner for twice the value of the horse. Section 272.050 Otherwise, Section 272.220 requires that all livestock be fenced and Section 272.230 makes the livestock owner liable if an animal causes damage.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much. That's what I needed. However, I was told (by non attorneys - by political people) that Missouri was still open range.


In the case of our horse being hit. Someone cut the fence, it was obvious...but no way of knowing who. Driver's insurance paid because of that.


Do we not have open range in Missouri?

All of those statutes are directly from the state legislature's website. I cannot find any statutes that contradict those - it's pretty clear that the owner of livestock can be held liable for any damage caused when the livestock gets out of a fenced area (or if it isn't fenced).

Those statutes have only been in place for about ten years, so I suppose it's possible that some people aren't aware of the changes to the law.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ONe more question I was asked. On the adverse possession. What happens if you sell? I was told that the 'new' fence lines become the actual property lines.


Is this true, or does the property lines revert to the original owners? If you sold, and did not disclose this issue, and they continued to keep the fence line as is, and 10 years goes by, what happens then? This is all very confusing.

If the property is sold, the amount of time that the fence was there before the sale is added to time after the sale, if necessary, to get to the 10 years.
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