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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36554
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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We live in Mass and bought our house about six years ago. We

Customer Question

We live in Mass and bought our house about six years ago.
We had a survey done and it revealed that the neighbor behind us
had installed a fence with one corner located about four feet within
her property. The fence has been there for many many yeas.
Last summer the neighbor had to move into a managed care facility
and she let her nice live in the house. Apparently, she isn't coming
back to the house, since it was sold to a developer. The developer
has notified us that they plan to raze the building and build a spiffy
new Mc Mansion.
At this point the developer is still getting clearances from environmental
agencies, since we live on a MWA Watershed. In spite of the fact that
the developer has not received permission to start work, he has torn
down the existing fence and thrown the sections all over the backyard.
At first I couldn't figure out why they took the fence down, since it would
have protected my property form the demolition and excavation that will
be taking place when they build the new house.
After a bit of thought, I realized that the developer is planning on erecting
a new fence on some boundary other than the existing fence line. Which
I imagine will correct the error found with our survey and reduce the size
of our yard. It will no doubt cut into our garden and force us to move the
plants that encroach on the neighbors newfound property.
I have done some research into MA Laws pertaining to fence laws and some
examples of disputes that have occurred over the location of a fence. I have
learned a few new terms such as Spite Fence and Fence Viewers. It has become
clear that disputes over fences can get emotional and even hostile.
My question is: Do I have to acquiesce and let them retake the land that has
been on my side of the existing fence ? Is there any regulation, or standard
that says that if the existing fence has been there for, lets say thirty-years,
any new fence must be built exactly where the old fence was ?
Thanks for any feedback.
Brian
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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""Do I have to acquiesce and let them retake the land that has
been on my side of the existing fence ? Is there any regulation, or standard that says that if the existing fence has been there for, lets say thirty-years,any new fence must be built exactly where the old fence was ?""
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First you would want to get lots of pictures of any remaining fence and where the old one was so as to document its placement.
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Then if the fence had been there at least 20 years, you could claim any land that you were encroaching on as your land under the doctrine of "adverse possession". In Massachusetts the period of time for adverse possession must be at least twenty (20) years. (Massachusetts C. 187, §2-3.)
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If you have used someone else's land for at least 20 years in Mass, then you can legally claim it as your own even though you started out technically as a trespasser.
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You could file a "quiet title" lawsuit against the neighbor and seek to claim that land you have used by proving that you have used it for at least 20 years. This is typically done with testimony and ownership records. Once you did so, the judge would enter an order stating you are the legal owner of the disputed portion. In order to to do so, you would want to talk to a local real estate attorney to assist.
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thanks
Barrister