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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 34302
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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Property line dispute. We bought the property we live on in

Customer Question

Hello,
Property line dispute.
We bought the property we live on in APR 2009 and the property behind the house was fenced in with our backyard, with an agreement to use the property for a year. without notice, in 2010 (approx 16 months after we moved in, the property owner had someone remove the fence which released our dogs into the neghborhood.
When we bought the property, it came with a sprinkler system in both the front and back. We placed our makeshift fence (for the dogs) at the 'natural terrain (and neighbors fenceline) and we also used where our sprinkler heads came out as our guideline for the location of our 'fence'.
In 2009 we built a deck, which was permited by the city, which needed to be 4 feet from the property line.
Last year the property beind us was sold (we had a 'first right of refusal which was never presented to us). A surveyer came to my home and told my 1 year old son (the only one home) that he needed to get into the back yard. He came into my house and went to the back yeard and placed a stake about 6 inches from our permited deck.
This year the contractor, who is building our new neighbors house removed our 'fence' and released our dogs into the neighborhood (again). He then ran over our sprinkler heads (which we thought was on our property, as we bought this house with a sprinkler system).
The contractor then built a rock was (as there is a slant to the properties) at the location (about 6 inches from where we thought our property was ocated (onto the new owners property). Now the new owners of this property want us to move our fence (again) so she can build a flower garden on "HER" preoperty and a fence.... which means our sprinklers wil now be watering her plants and her fence.
What are my options please?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 7 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Have you seen the new survey and confirmed that the boundaries are where the back neighbor is saying they are?

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"with an agreement to use the property for a year." Do you mean that the back neighbor agreed to allow you to use this land, and everyone knew and understood it belonged to the neighbor?

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Back in 2009 did you get a survey done to confirm you were at least 4 feet from the property line?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Hello,
I have not seen the 'new' Survey, or the 'Old' survey, no. and as far a confirming the location, no, the 'new' line is up the hill(about 4 foot high) and now inside what everyone thought was our property. No, we never had a survey completed when we bought the property.
Yes, we all knew she still owned the lot behind us, that we were just 'using' it until we were contacted .. tehn we were going to build a fence... but we never got notice, dn the fence was removed, and our dogs were let out.
in 2009 when we had the deck built, the city planner had to approve a permit to get it built, so... we ahve a permitted deck, which woudl not have been permitted had it been 6 inches from teh property line, as you need feet.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
you need 4 feet from teh propertyline to build... sorry (typos)
Expert:  Barrister replied 7 months ago.

Ok, the problem here is that since everyone was aware it was the neighbor's property and you had permission to use it, you can't ever claim "adverse possession" so as to be able to claim legal ownership of that land.

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So essentially, wherever the properly survey says the boundaries are, the neighbor has the right to use the land right up to the property line. If you have your personal property on their land (i.e. the sprinklers) they can file suit for trespass to land and force you to remove them from their land.

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As for the deck, it is likely that they city planner just looked at the existing fence and assumed that was the property line. They can be kind of lazy. But the duty is on you to make sure you know your property boundaries before you construct of install anything so as to make sure you aren't trespassing on the neighbor's property.

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I hate to say it, but I don't see you as having a legally defensible position here if they want you to remove the sprinklers and they want to use all the land up to the property line.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Well, the problem is that we all thought the 3 feet length of the dispute was ours. Not the other lots
Expert:  Barrister replied 7 months ago.

That is a tough situation and why it is always a good reason to get a survey so you know exactly where your property lines are...

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But the neighbor would have legal grounds to eject you if they chose to pursue it. You couldn't claim it through adverse possession since your original use was permissive so wouldn't be "hostile " which is required as one of the elements of adverse possession.

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Thanks

Barrister

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