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maintaining beyond your property line

Posted by Damian_1999 (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 12, 12 at 21:56

I am new to these forums, so I wasn't sure which topic to post under.

I have recently purchased my deceased grandparents house from my family.

At the back edge of my yard, the ground starts to slope downhill for about 15 feet then becomes a tree line of woods about 30 feet deep until the person in the next neighborhood over's yard starts.

My grandparents lived here since 1950 and I moved in in 2010. For the sixty years my grandparents have lived here, they have always maintained the grass and plants to the back woodsline. I never once thought that my property didn't extend to the woodsline until recently when my mother told me that the property line is actually 15 feet before the woods lines right before the yard starts sloping downhill.

The person who my mother said that owns that section of land has never been up in that section next to my yard, for it is impossible to get to through the thick patch of woods. He or She also has never maintained that section (cutting the grass, trimming bushes, etc)

My concern is that I was planning on building a firepit in that area with a small patio. If I decide to not build it and stop maintaining that area, it will definately get overgrown and be an eye sore.

Is there any type of law that states if you maintain adjacent property to yours that the actual owner does not after so many years that it becomes yours? I have always heard something about this but could never find anything in writing.

Thank you for your replies,
Damian


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

"Is there any type of law that states if you maintain adjacent property to yours that the actual owner does not after so many years that it becomes yours?"

It is called 'adverse possession,' and the actual terms vary from state to state.

Paying taxes on the land is required in some states.

It is also a great way to make enemies.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

Prodon the pun, but adverse possession is a real slippery slope. You really need to have your property surveyed to find out where the actual property lines are. If in fact the "extra" property you maintain is not actualy part of your surveyed property, you are free to continue to maintain the area but not to put any semi-permanent structure on the property.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

I'd suggest getting to know this neighbor a little bit. He/she may be perfectly happy to sell you this property for a very reasonable price if it is as truly inaccessible to them as you say. You'd become responsible for for the taxes at that point, but would certainly make your plans for the firepit viable.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

"He/she may be perfectly happy to sell you this property for a very reasonable price"

You need to have a legal lot line adjustment to make it legit. That may be cost prohibitive.

It may be better to just put together a use agreement between you and the neighbor. The agreement may be as simple as maintaining the status quo, for a set period of time, or as long as both parties hold title to the land.

I don't think adverse posession is an ethical way to exercise one's property rights.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

In Texas, various persons have tried to take possession of foreclosed empty houses by trying to use adverse possession. Guess what, the sherriff has not only reemoved these people but thrown their furniture out on the street and arrested them.

As I said befor, you need to have your property surveyed. I suspect you have no idea where your property lines are.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

I have a similar situation- soon after we moved in we saw a bit of activity back towards the rear of our property about 500 feet from the house. The husband hiked back to check it out and we met a "backyard neighbor" who had been mowing a little patch of clearing and using it for a picnic table.

They knew the spot was ours but had been using it since the 50's- come to find out they were in-laws of the couple that originally built my house!
They actually know quite a lot about my home as they were here when it was built and helped on a few of the projects- they have been very interesting to talk to. We made no formal agreement, just a handshake "we all know who it belongs to" and carried on.

Soon after that we did have a survey done and walked the boundary with the guy who did it. We marked various trees and landmarks with outdoor spray paint and repaint every year to keep the property line visible and easy to find for everyone.
I also filed a copy of my survey at my county courthouse, which from what I understand is not necessary but good to have done in case any issues come up in the future.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

Send the neighbor (certified with return receipt) a notice granting them temporary use of the area.

Keep a copy for yourself, along wththe3 return receipt.

This defeats the 'hostile' requirement of adverse possession.


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RE: maintaining beyond your property line

Generally the laws of adverse possession require that you use the land contrary to the owners wishes for a prolonged period of time. By example, in Ohio, you must occupy the land in direct defiance of the landowners expressed wishes for a period of not less than 21 years.


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