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The Geezer
The Geezer, Successful careers
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1387
Experience:  Retired Civil Engineer, USC Professor & Realtor, financier
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What are our rights on property in MS.

Resolved Question:

We have owned a pc of propery in MS. for 10 years this July.We built a home and two buildings on this property. THere is a vacant 3 acres next to us and now somw one has purchased it and they are saying per thier survey that our shop is on them by 10 ft and they want us to take it down. They are right up next to our house cutting trees down and telling us we have to move the shop.What are our rights.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  The Geezer replied 9 years ago.
It sounds as though you did not have your own survey made when the property was purchased 10 years ago. You probably relied on the seller or the seller's agent as to what your property boundaries were.

Now would be a good time to hire your own surveyor and confirm whether or not the facts are as your new neighbor says they are. If your surveyor agrees with their surveyor, which is quite possible, then you have been "encroaching" on your neighbor's property for 10 years without knowing it.

Your encroachment appears to have been continous, open, notorious and hostile. These are the requirements for a successful claim of "adverse possession". Let me define these terms first.

I have had some experience with "adverse posession".

In order to bring a successful claim of adverse possession, a person has to establish, to the satisfaction of the court in a civil trial, that their use and occupancy has been continuously open, notorious and hostile for the statutory period of time, usually five years.

"Open" means that anyone, including the rightful owner, could have reasonably seen the use.

"Notorious" means that it was obvious. Living below the surface of the land, for example, isn't obvious.

"Hostile" means against the interest of the rightful owner. If you have permission, even for one day per year, that occupancy isn't hostile, and "restarts the clock".

"Continuous" means just that. Many building owners who allow pedestrians to cross their property lines block off the area once a year to ensure nobody can claim an easement due to continuous use.

So one of your choices are to file a court case claiming adverse possession of the area occupied by your shop, and the area needed to access it. Even though your shop is one "someone else's land", the fact that it has been there for 10 years allows you to make this claim.

Once you have made the claim, and filed the lawsuit, you could then settle the lawsuit by buying just enough land to allow your shop to stay and for you to access it. OR you could LEASE that area for 99 years. You would have to negotiate a price.

If the lawsuit is contested by your neighbor it could get expensive for both of you.

You could also move the shop and save the court costs.

But now that there is a conflict the status quo probably cannot be maintained for long.

Once you have decided which course of action appeals to you the most, discuss the matter with a local real estate attorney. Your adverse possession case could cost from $4000 to $8000, roughly. One thing is for sure, if you go that way and don't settle the matter with your neighbor, they will be madder than a wet hen for a long time. These are all things to consider.
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