Property lines and common grounds

hautingluJuly 14, 2009

Not a disaster, the Elderly Neighbor post got me thinking:

I recently purchased a home with some land (compared to the neighbors). My side yard intersects with common ground and several other neighbors (not a pie shape, more like several blocks). I have a survey from the original development, but haven't had a stake survey done.

Several questions:

-One of the neighbors asked a month ago if he could plant a small garden (which I could take from) that would go partly into my yard and common ground (possibly his too). I didn't have a problem with this since I was new and the free veggies would be nice. So should I be concerned that in the future he might claim this to be common ground? If so, what steps can I take without changing my mind (and being the bad guy) and still protecting my land? Again there is no stake survey (yet?), so it's hard to tell exactly on who's land it is.

-If I have the original survey (which has some coordinates and property lines), what is the best way to mark the property line? Hire someone? Is using a GPS semi-feasible?

-Related to the garden, since we don't know our exact property line, should I also be worried that the other neighbors mow (possibly?) one or near my property line? What about the fact the neighbor has mowed my side yard before? (the one next to the garden that touches the other yards)

Lots of questions I know. Thanks for the help.

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sniffdog

You should find out what the law is in your area. It is commonly referred to as squatters rights or "adverse possession" and it varies from state to state.

There have been some very famous cases on adverse possession including one that i recall about a garden in Washignton DC. And old woman had been gardening a piece of land for about 40 or 50 years. New owners came in and bought the property - had it surveyed - and discovered that a big chunck of the garden was on their land. They tried to put up a fence and the old woman sued using adverse possession law - and won! She now owns that piece of property!

I recently discovered that the previous owner of the land next to mine built a dry stack stone wall that is partially on my property. I had the land surveyed - and staked - becuase I suspected there was an issue (I could find corner pegs and property line stakes on all corners of the lot except the area where the wall was located). Sure enough - the dummy put the wall almost 15 feet onto my property and then planted big evergreen trees on my lot!. I talked to the new owner and he is reasonable - thankfully. I had the wall surveyed and we are drawing up a land agreement that will be filed with the county. This agreement says this section of wall is mine and that he makes no claim to it. We could have done an easement or property swap but those were unaccetbale options to me. I also could have made the new neighbor tear down the wall - at his expense - since he was technically tresspassing, but that seemed unreasonable too. So we came up with the idea of a property agreement. When I go to sell and the land is staked that section of wall will be shown on the filed survey as my property.

These things can get messy - so be careful. And by all means get the property surveyed and have corner posts and property line stakes put in so everyone knows where your property lines are.

If your neighbors want to mow part of your lot, that is nice of them but would typically not meet the criteria for adverse posession. However, if they improved that section of land, then you might have an issue.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:29AM
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