Boundary lines

victory_tea2085August 13, 2010

Just bought a house in town last fall. I am installing an invisible fence to contain our Lab puppy. My neighbor is giving me all kinds of grief about the boundary lines stating the one corner post is inaccurate. I moved my IF in 2 yards to appease him. How close to the boundary line can I legally place the fence. The former owners had a survey done before selling the house and the surveyor placed all corner posts where they're at now- could my neighbor be right about inaccuracy?

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How qualified was the surveyor? Licensed? etc. Your neighbor may have other issues. He/she may just not like dogs. You might check with either your zoning office, or ? Not sure.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 10:38AM
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Fence installation is subject to local code, but in my suburban chicago neighborhood, fences can be installed ON the property line, although most contractors and inspectors will recommend a couple inches inside the line. There is also the requirement that if there is a "pretty side" of the fence, that it faces outward.

2 yards (6 FEET!) inside the recently surveyed property line sounds ridiculous.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 10:43AM
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2 yards in is too far in! That's ridiculous! You're losing 6 feet of yard for your dog all along that side!

If a surveyor went out there and put a marker down, you could rightly assume that he was correct. Tell the neighbor if he thinks it's inaccurate, to go pay for his own survey, and to back off.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:02AM
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I'm guessing you're in a large lot as 6 feet is huge. Most fences in my area are just inside the property line, maybe 1 ft?

The point of the survey with corner posts is to have an accurate boundry line. there really is no other purpose. Assuming the survey company is qualified, your neighbor is wrong, most are when it comes to boundry lines, its not surprising.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:43PM
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And just to clarify ... you are talking about an invisible fence, where you will be burying the wires? So there is not physical "fence"? If that's the case, put it where you think your boundary is.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 1:17PM
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See if you can't find out from the former owner who did the survey. Then with that in hand make your choice as to where to put the IF.
Most neighbors THINK they know where the lines are BUT till they are shown a survey it's just a guess based on what they were told by their PO's.
Usually the first thing I have done after we buy a piece of property is have a survey done. It ends ALL discussion on who is right.
One other piece of advice. If you do do a survey make sure you are home when it gets done AND immediately sink the pins into concrete so they can't be removed.
We had one sneaky neighbor that as soon as the surveyor was gone went out and moved the pins. If one of the other neighbors hadn't told us we would have never known as soon as we did. After having this guy for a neighbor for awhile it was apparent this was typical behavior for him, moving pins, trimming plants and bushes that weren't his or on his side of the property line.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:15PM
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You'll be in the minority if you don't have adjoining property owners think they own onto your property. And the lines creep ever inward each house sale. ;-) Surveys are the last word. That's why you get them. Are they always accurate? No. But, to move forward you assume they are. If the disputing party gets their pants in a twist, the ball is in their court to also get a survey and if there is a discrepancy from your's, it becomes a civil matter to be settled in court.

I've bought and sold enough property to know that the surveyor does sometimes make mistakes. Part of a parcel we sold a few years ago was cut out of larger acreage and there was an acre and a quarter left over after the initial acreage was divided. rofl. Again when the owners of the farm next to us sub-divided, there was an obvious error and the surveyor had to come back and re-define lines.

The thing about sub-divisions in an urban or sub-urban situation is that numerous lots are all surveyed off at once and usually by the same surveyor. So, the initial plots are accurate in relation to one another. The problem arises when the pins are lost and the creeps of ownership starts to happen. Then numerous re-surveys are done on an individual basis. That's fine if they all begin at the original reference point to start the survey. A lot of surveyors a hundred years down the road would just rather not and shoot off a out-of-place point they 'assume' is right because perhaps the city has marked it for a construction project. I owned two adjoining houses in a nearby city in an old residential area. I enquired about a survey and the surveyor just laughed and said it would cost me dearly because he'd have to start out quite a distance away to be sure it was accurate and he imagine over the last hundred years the lot lines have been muddled plenty by homeowners. On top of this my legal description with the survey data talks about so many feet from the old tree near such and such rock. OMG...........the trees are prolly long gone and the rock covered.

I have had the 'talk' with several 'next-doors' in former homes about moving their horses out of my orchard or their newly planted trees because they'd eventually end up behind a fence I was erecting. They all had to comply when I had my survey in my hand.

And speaking of the two adjoining houses I owned. I sold one of them and the buyer's lending institution wanted to be sure of the lot dimensions. I have no idea who they hired, but I was next door when he was working. I never saw a transit. I did see some measuring tapes and him pacing it off from the corner of the house. Good Lord.

Get a survey and go by it. Like a previous poster says, maybe the guy was not wanting the dog within biting distance of his property. If you sunk the fence immediately on the lot line the dog would be. But no way would I concede to anyone that land was 'theirs'.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 2:58PM
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Victory, I feel your pain. We recently had to pay for a new survey as mysteriously, out previous stake survey's boundary marker disappeared in one corner of our property. Interestingly enough one of our neighbors came out to argue with the surveyor as it was being re-done. Low and behold, guess what we discovered? Yep, you guessed it. Said neighbor was heartily encroaching on our property. Cutting down trees and bushes at random. Planting landscaping and woodpiles, etc. The new survey indicated that the boundary was right where we thought it was all along. As graciously as possible, we told our neighbor that after paying for two surveys, we were done. If he wanted to dispute it, to feel free and hire his own licensed surveyor. We then put up our fence inside the property line, but marked the entire shared line with landscaping timber. We put the fence about a foot or two inside the line for two reasons: 1) so we could maintain w/o having to go on neighbors property and 2) to prevent said neighbor from joining on to our fence if he decided to fence the rest of his yard. Yeah, petty, I know. But after giving us such a hard time about it (there's more) and not being willing to share any expense for the shared property line area, we decided that he could pay for his own fencing (we've had other neighbors experience this).

I would permanently mark your property boundaries (sink the rebar in cement if you have to). If you plan on some day putting in something other than IF, you will have to move the IF. Previous owners had installed IF, but we never used it as our dogs have seizure disorders.

I would caution you to NOT surrender ANY portion of your property by not claiming it with fencing. Your neighbor sounds like a weasel.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:11PM
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Lots of TERRIBE advice given here :)

"One other piece of advice. If you do do a survey make sure you are home when it gets done AND immediately sink the pins into concrete so they can't be removed."

DON'T DO THIS, you can NEVER accurately sink the pins into cement once the surveyor has placed them..They will move ,without question,even slightly,and render them as a "homeowner special" in other words, no longer certified by the surveyor..If you are so inclined to have concrete markers,PAY the surveyor to place concrete monuments as corners,,very expensive to do such,and likley not worth it,but it is an option

Don't know what state you reside in, but many states require surveyors to be licensed,so that would remove the "get a qualified surveyor" from the equation, as being licensed is as qualified as it gets..

I would agree with above replies about keeping your "fence" closer then 6 ft from property,why give your neighbor any leeway?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:52PM
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I would get a copy of the prior survey and ask the surveyor to just do a verification of his prior survey. I doubt the code of fences applies to invisible fences. If you can dig and plant right up to the property line I can't see why you couldn't bury a wire right up to it unless your town has a special code addressing this.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 5:11PM
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And, I'm pretty sure that the act of moving a survey stake over to access land not belonging to you is probably an illegal act. The burden of proof, however, is on you.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 6:53PM
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I would be hesitant to put in an invisible fence next door to disgruntled neighbors. Do they have pets? If not, I'd be more inclined to put a visible barrier (reg fence, thick hedges,etc) between those who might not have you (or your pets') best interests in mind.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:34PM
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"And, I'm pretty sure that the act of moving a survey stake over to access land not belonging to you is probably an illegal act. "

The wooden stakes mean nothing.

Messing with monuments (steel, lead pipe, concrete, etc.) is illegal just about everywhere.

It is liable to be very hard to prove unless you have pictures of them in the act.

A police visit may be enough to convince them not to mess with monuments though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 4:15PM
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Sorry I used the wrong word Brickeye. We call installing the metal pins 'setting stakes' here and that's what we pay our surveyors to install. And I'm not so sure you are even correct about that. They do mean something until they decay and moving them can cause the party who paid for the service harm in some situations. I can see at least some cases for civil liability if done with intention to gain something fraudulently.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 5:04PM
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I would certain by leery of an invisible fence with disgruntled neighbors (well, really, in any event). Remember that while an invisible fence might (sometimes) keep your pet in, it will do nothing to keep other animals out of your yard.

Also, dogs can and will at times go through an invisible fence and may be very reluctant to return and go back through it. That might not be great with neighbors you don't get along with. I would suggest considering a regular fence.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 6:17PM
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calliope, wooden stakes are no longer allowed to be set as property corners,just for the fact they decay..I believe the "stakes" that Brickeyee is referring to is the "marker stakes" which are used just to let you know a property corner(iron pipe/pin,concrete monument) is located there..

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:34PM
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Thanks for all the replies. This guy claims he has been driving vehicles to the east of his old barn for years. If my property lines are correct, he would have no room to drive any vehicle to the East of his old barn. If I ran a string from the south post to the north post, he would have about 3 ft past his barn. The survey, which was done by a licensed, surveyor, took place last November 2010. Now, if everything is accurate and the lines are correct, should I allow him to drive to the east of his barn?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:45PM
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No, if only because by law, if a path of any kind becomes established for a certain # of years (whatever that is in your area) without argument, then a form of squatters' rights becomes 'law' in that you're seen to have forfeited the land. Whether or not the previous owners allowed him to drive thru or not doesn't matter unless it was for long enough to have forfeited their rights, but I think you'd have been made aware of it by now. He can claim whatever he wants, but if it's your land, it's your land and he's trespassing.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:39PM
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larke, that is correct, but if she is concerned about that, she should contact a lawyer. In the grand scheme of things, not letting her neighbor drive his vehicles around the barn like he has done in the past would give rise to a very high level of friction. It's a tricky situation because it is true that if you let someone use your land for long enough, you do forfeit rights to it, but there are very specific rules for how that happens, why it happens, and when it happens, which you should research and/or contact a lawyer about.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 10:05PM
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Thanks qdwag

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:37AM
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We went through a similar problem a little over a year ago.

A little backgound. We move here about 5 1/2 years ago. Our driveway goes between the two adjacent properties. We had some split rail fencing to mark part of the property and drive. One of our neighbors has all sorts of large equipment and was running a firewood business in plain view of everyone. Anyway, he was constantly driving his skid steer over our drive into the neighbor's yard - moving large logs and the like. He also had log piles next to the split rail. At least three or four times a year he would break a slip rail section. It would take him months to fix it. The final straw was when his pile of pavers, on our porperty, spilled over onto our drive and crush the fencing!

We had a survey done about last year. We wanted to know exactly were our property lines were. He had one done the year before. I was home so I knew exactly were the stakes were placed and took detailed pictures. That weekend both neighbors were busy moving their "stuff" off our property. They knew were the property line was all along and were taking advantage of the "new kids on the block!" We had over 300 foot of fencing installed about one foot onto our property line. Checked the local zoning laws before we had the fence installed. No permit was needed because the fence height was six foot. If we had chosen a height of eight feet, we would have needed a permit.

Needless to say, our one neighbor has not spoken to us since. No problem on our part. CT has licensed surveyors and we have the steel rod stakes in the ground to mark the corners. We also found out that if we had not defended our property line, he could have claimed "squatter's rights" on parts of our property in another 2 years.

So get a survey done. Have the stakes placed on the line. If your neighbor complains - too bad. It will be his task to challenge the survey. And demand that he respect your property line and rights - including the riding around the barn!

Good fences sometimes do make good neighbors!

Enjoy the journey.
eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:14AM
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eal51, A survey was done a week before I closed on the property- do I need another?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:34AM
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Can't imagine why you would, but only your lawyer can say for sure.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 8:08AM
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"This guy claims he has been driving vehicles to the east of his old barn for years. If my property lines are correct, he would have no room to drive any vehicle to the East of his old barn. Now, if everything is accurate and the lines are correct, should I allow him to drive to the east of his barn?"

I would think very hard about this, especially because of what you said in your OP:

"My neighbor is giving me all kinds of grief about the boundary lines stating the one corner post is inaccurate."

You aren't being unreasonable. You have a survey, he doesn't. He doesn't believe yours is correct. If he doesn't want to get his own survey to prove he is right then tell him no.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:02AM
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He has not used that drive since I've lived here, but he tells me he has in the past.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:57PM
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I suggest having an attorney write the miscreant a letter regarding the property boundary. A lot of property bullies become real tame when they find the neighbor they are abusing may very well take legal action.

A letter from an attorney shouldn't cost more than a couple of hundred dollars.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Seriously consider installing an actual fence. It will be much safer and humane for your dog, and for you, as your neighbor sounds as if he will be a never ending source of trespass and aggravation without a fence.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 1:01AM
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I had a similar situation to the driving-around-the barn issue. I forget the legal term, but it has to do with what a piece of property is used for over a number of years.

A neighbor attached a fence to my garage without permission and thereby "took" two feet of my property.

I confronted him, but the fence made it possible for him to unchain his wretched dogs and let them run free in his yard, so I let him leave it there and told him I needed to think about it.

My attorney father advised me to send him a registered letter stating that I was allowing him to temporarily use part of my property but could revoke that permission at any time. This apparently protected my property boundaries. If I'd simply allowed the fence to remain for a certain number of years, I could actually have lost that part of the property.

The neighbor signed the paper (angrily, I heard) and moved out a few years later. His ex wife kept the house, married a great new guy and we all lived as happy neighbors after that. I eventually fully fenced my lot, removing the crappy piece of fence attached to my garage and retaking the strip of property.

If you let this guy drive around your barn without giving him written permission, it could become an easement and affect your property boundaries. His claim that he's "done it for years" is especially worrisome.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 7:09PM
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Carol, I'm beginning to understand a law that's similar to squatter's rights. Anyway, he hasn't driven on my property since I've lived here and my neighbor (lived next door for 3 years) said he's never seen Howard drive on my land. I think I,m going to lay low and if he decides to drive on my property- I will then address the issue. We moved here last November and I am really concerned about getting along with my neighbors.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:23AM
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The legal term is Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is a process by which premises can change ownership. It is a common law concept concerning the title to real property (land and the fixed structures built upon it). By adverse possession, title to another's real property can be acquired without compensation, by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owner's rights for a specified period. For example, "squatter's rights" are a specific form of adverse possession.

In my 20+ years of surveying, not ONCE has an adverse possession case won in court..Every single case the "legal" owner of the property reatined ownership...

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 10:08AM
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That's good to know!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 11:25AM
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Adverse possession varies by state, but in many you have to pay the property taxes, and few ever do that.

The common portions are possession, open and notorious, exclusive, hostile, and continuous.

It is easier to obtain an easement than full possession property.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 2:07PM
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Adverse possession only applies when you DO NOT give him permission to drive over your land, and he tries to claim that land as his own. If you give him permission to drive on YOUR land, adverse possession does not apply, he cannot claim that land as his own, and you can change your mind at any time.

A neighbor asked if she could put her fence post on our property. I gave permission. She cannot take adverse possession of my property since I gave her permission to use it. The difference is, is she doing it without my consent, and for a continued time frame without my consent? That would constitute adverse possession.

As far as easements are concerned, you'd have to grant him an Easement, which gives him the perpetual right to use that land for a specified purpose (drive his vehicle on that area). It is still your land, you still pay the taxes on it, but I believe after 20 years or so it by default becomes adverse possession, this may vary by state. Easements are very difficult to get out of, so once you grant it, don't plan on recinding it, it won't happen unless he violates the terms and you'd have to prove that.

Given that he sounds like many other long term residents we've had to deal with, he seems to think he can dictate what you do on your property, trying to claim part of it as his own.

The oldest survey, what we've been told by a neighbor with a similar situation, is going to be one that is deemed the most accurate from a legal standpoint. In this case, the two neighbors were comparing surveys, and my neighbor had the oldest on record - their attorney stated this one would have more credence in court as opposed to the other neighbors newer survey.

However, on the flip side, most surveys, such as ourown, have verbiage indicating that it is good for one owner only, not all future owners, and most property markers are guaranteed for only so many years. Meaning that the earth shifts, and so do those property markers with it.

Why does he think the marker is wrong? Does he have any documented proof to back up what he is saying? Sounds like he's blowing smoke.

Too bad if he doesn't want an electric fence, it's your property to do with what you want, and I wouldn't give him 6 feet City Hall, ask if there are any setback requirements for an electric fence.

We have anal retentive neighbors who approach us and ask us what we are doing every time we go behind our garage - we have to exit our fence and encroach on their property, but we only have maybe a little over a foot from our garage face to the property line due to small lots. We have no other choice. The average person can't even fit in a space that small. We didn't build it, this is how it came, still it is our responsibility and right to maintain the back of our garage, so we have no choice but to step on our neighbors property to do so. That's the same for everyone on our block. The setbacks for garages was not much when they were built. This neighbor went around to all his neighbors when he purchased, and legally stated that he had to establish his property boundaries, forcing neighbors to remove plants if they were two inches over his propery line. No joke. I couldn't imagine being married to that guy. This is also the same neighbor who is at a higher elevation, and decided to use our fence as a "retaining wall" to level off their property, piling soil against our fence. Ummm, I don't think so buddy. So we had to tell him to remove it, at which point he asked if it was an ordinance. I said no, but I can have my attorney explain that in a letter if you'd like.

Another neighbor, also a long time elderly resident, was upset because we put up a fence, and tried claiming some of our land as his own, he was ultimately harmless, but still he went on about it for a year straight until I had a long talk with his daughter.

There are two other long term residents in the neighborhood who call my neighbors 4 1/2 foot fence a "wall" and they no longer talk because of the fence. Ridiculous. It's their property to do what they want with, and I don't understand this mentality that just because you've lived here longer than me, that gives you the right to tell me what I can do on my own property that I pay taxes on.

This is the worst of the worst, doesn't mean we have terrible relations with our neighbors or that I'd recommend resorting to threats or anything, just be reasonable, but also stand your ground. We had this vision, as first time homeowners, that we'd be best friends with all our neighbors, we are very social, decent people. Well, today, we just want to have postive civil relations with neighbors, and we're satisfied if we get that. I don't think man was meant to live in such close proximity to others.

Ask him to pay 1/2 for the cost of a new survey. If he disagrees, call the surveyor of your most recent, and ask him if the current survey applies, from a legal standpoint, to you as the new owner of that property. Read the verbiage on the survey. If he doesn't want to pay for 1/2 of a new survey, then your current survey will have to suffice. Until he can prove otherwise, that's what you go by. By the way, from a legal standpoint, the PROOF OF BURDEN is on him, not you.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:06PM
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Thanks for your time dominoswrath - this is my plan since we've lived here for only about 6 mos. He is not driving past the barn right now, so I,m just going to let things ride. If he starts to use that drive, I will then be forced to tell him "no more" and, as you said, the burden of property boundary will be on him. The surveyor advised me that everything is legally entered at the Wayne co. courthouse.
Thank you

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 8:28AM
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Adverse possession can be very messy. This saga went on for a very long time. Accusations of Lawyers abusing their knowledge over the little guy, abusing knowing the judge etc. There is a website that details the entire saga, but I can't find it right now. This will give you an idea and there are other links there with the chronology.

Here is a link that might be useful: Boulder CO Adverse Possession.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 1:06PM
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