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Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4634
Experience:  23 years as attorney NY and FL Bars.
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A neighbor moved property line (PL) stakes, erected a fence

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A neighbor moved property line (PL) stakes, erected a fence on my state of Wash oceanview property in Feb 2006, and by report is trying to establish adverse possession of that area. I had to have the PL surveyed for the 4th time to make sure the fence was encroaching and that stakes had been altered. I know I have 7 more years on an adverse possession claim. But that encroachment prevents me from selling the property.   At her request I offered and sent her revocable permissive use of that area for no cost but her signature. After 8 weeks. I received a certified letter telling me that she changed her mind and was not agreeing that her fence was on my property, even though all surveys, including hers, show it is.   She is taunting me to go to court which I do not want to do. I want to write her a letter accepting her refusal of the permissive use, demand that she take down her fence, and stop any adverse claim for good. What are my best next steps to protect myself?
First off, tear down that fence that has been illegally erected on your property. Or even better, move it to the real property line. Surveyors can sink rods deep into the ground that cannot be removed that can establish where the property line is. They find them with a metal detector. You can sell the property. There is no encroachment here. She has no claim. Offer her nothing.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
She buried the fence posts in concrete pilings on my side of the PL and planted plants on top of the old property line stake. I do not want to have the cost or damage of removing those pilings. Can I give her 30 days notice to move or remove the fence and inform her that If she does not comply, then she relinquishes ownership of the fence, pilings and plants to me so that I now own the fence. Therefore, no encroachment needs be disclosed? She lives there, I live 1800 miles away. She can and has made my life miserable. I would like to avoid an aggressive act if any other option allows me to take control. Is there a format of establising property rights without having to get nasty, confrontational, or going to court?

You are being legally robbed by this person and don't want to get nasty or confrontational? This person is trying to take your property by adverse possession. You are required by law to (the legal word literally is:) CONFRONT her or you are going to lose title to this parcel. You can certainly send her a registered, return receipt requested letter demanding the removal of the fence and the plantings, but you cannot establish ownership of them by saying in the letter that if she does not reply she forfeits them. A fence is not difficult or expensive to remove, concrete footings or not.


Remember she has taken actions which are planned and legally designed to establish open, hostile and notorius possession of your land. It's like she read the law books.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I am finally getting it. The fence is attractive and does provide privacy between the lots. I would have liked to leave the fence up on my terms but from what I understand I have to remove it to keep her from stealing my land. I have no way to claim abandonment to stop adverse possession claims. Is that correct? I will release funds following your reply. Thank you so much for your help.

That is correct. Please act agressively and do it soon.
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