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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
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I purchased a home in 2010. Let my daughter live in it for

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I purchased a home in 2010. Let my daughter live in it for a couple years, and now have taken possession again. There is a chain link fence which has been overgrown with blackberry bushes and in checking the plot maps and deed property lines I find my property line extends some 12 feet past this chain link fence. It appears the neighbors behind me took down the real property line fence at some time and began using my property for plants and garden. I would think the title insurance would cover this, but not knowing how long this has been in effect, I don't know if adverse possession applies here. This is a residential area, with well defined lines and fences, which is consistant in all the yards but mine. The lots are a bit over 1/4 acre. All the records from the city show the property line some 12 feet beyond the chain link fence. I did not notice this until I began developing plans for a complete backyard remodel. I would like my property back so I could include it in this remodel.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Do you know how long the neighbor has been essentially trespassing on your property?
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Thanks
Barrister

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.

I do not know for sure. It really appears like they purposely removed the fence so the chain link fence would be the default line. I know the previous owner died and then his daughter moved in but could not keep up the payments. Then a contractor bought it and did a complete remodel. The arial photograph from the city shows the fence down for at least the time of my purchase. (Arial photo shows my car in the driveway)

Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.
Ok, the problem here is that you don't know how long they have been using the property. Under Oregon adverse possession laws, (Oregon Code §12.050 and 105.620) if they use it openly for ten years, then they can actually legally claim it by filing a "quiet title" action against you.
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With that said, you could do a couple things...You could force the issue by taking down your fence and having a new fence reinstalled along the true property line after having a surveyor out to pin the boundaries. The would force the neighbor to either retreat or hire an attorney to file a quiet title lawsuit and try to claim the land if they have been using it for at least ten years.
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The other option would be to send them a "cease and desist" letter from an attorney stating that they are trespassing on your property and that they as of the date of the letter they are prohibited from entering onto that area or you will file trespassing charges against them.
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As for title insurance, this just protects against other former owners or claimants claiming that your title is defective or that they have some claim to the property. It does not protect against adverse claimants.
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If they feel guilty about using your land, then they might just apologize and retreat. But if they did this intentionally with a goal in claiming it, then they will put up a fight and if they can prove open use for ten years, they will be awarded legal ownership of the land.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Would this apply even though there have been multiple owners during this time. This appears like being rewarded for being devious and taking advantage of a person who was ill at the time.

Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.
Unfortunately yes. The period of the neighbor's adverse possession can begin with one owner and cross over several owners if the original owner or subsequent owners don't take proactive action to terminate the occupancy and use of the land before the ten years runs.
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And I would agree that it can reward sneaky neighbors but the law favors the active use of property and unfortunately this doctrine can have an unfair result if property owners are not vigilant in defending their land.
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Thanks
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 23018
Experience: 14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
Barrister and 7 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you

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