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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Virginia

    I purchased a house last year but recently learned that my fence encroaches on to the neighbor's property by about one foot. Although I did not know it at the time of settlement, the survey noted it and my title insurance policy includes a clause that the encroachment is not covered.

    About five years ago, the original builder of the subdivision made a boundary adjustment to the lots, and filed an updated plat with the county. However the builder's survey company never moved the iron pipe survey marker.

    The prior owners of my house had hired a fence company and they relied only on the outdated marker.

    Do I have any recourse? If so, against whom?

    I intend to move the fence, sprinkler system, and french drain to make this right (approx. $5000).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    283

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    Is your neighbor causing a stink about the fence location, or do you just want to make sure you aren't encroaching on anyone? Our fence on one side is approx 6" over the line but both of us acknowledge that it is over the line and that was the end of the discussion. IF our neighbor started to get worried that we would try to claim the land I would try and talk them into a letter of acknowledgement that our fence is over the line with their permission, which could be rescinded at any future point. It's my thought that this would protect their property from any claims by us and save the costs of moving the fence 6".

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,340

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    About five years ago, the original builder of the subdivision made a boundary adjustment to the lots, and filed an updated plat with the county. However the builder's survey company never moved the iron pipe survey marker.
    If it was properly made and recorded, the boundary adjustment should be valid regardless of the location of the old marks. Is the fence in harmony with the adjusted boundary?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    Thanks for the replies and advice! Unfortunately my neighbor wants it fixed - he is worried about resale, so getting him to agree to a letter of acknowledgement is not an option. From what I can tell the boundary adjustment is legal and recorded properly.

    The fence is in harmony with the old property lines so it encroaches in to my neighbors yard in an area of about 1 foot by 30 feet.

    I guess the old iron marker is meaningless at this point. Do Surveyors have any professional obligation to remove old marks or lay new ones when making adjustments? I do not expect any compensation but it would be nice to have their help with identifying the new fence location.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    If the lot line adjustment was properly executed and recorded, you probably have no recourse. If there is some reason that the fence builder should have been aware of the line adjustment, then you may have some recourse there, but I suspect that's unlikely. If fence builders find what appear to be the property corner monuments, there are no other monuments in the immediate vicinity that would cause questions as to whether they are valid, and the landowners do not inform the the fence builder any different, then they have generally met the level of care expected of them.

    Fortunately it's only a fence and only 30' rather than a concrete patio, a driveway, or a building. Although thte cost is unexpected, moving 30' of fence is far less expensive than most other possibilities.
    I'm a surveyor, not your surveyor & not an attorney.
    Advice is general survey, not legal. Hire a local professional for specific advice.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    Thanks and I agree - After reading some of the other posts on this site, my problem is really minor. I researched it further and everything was executed and recorded properly. I also spoke to a survey company and apparently old markers or iron pipes are difficult to pull out of the ground. As a result they are often left in place and used to identify old boundaries.

    I learned a good lesson to pay real close attention to fences, surveys, and title insurance documentation at settlement. Even when you trust the sellers and Realtors, things can easily be overlooked.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Bought a House with a Fence That Goes Off My Property

    Wait a minute. Why is it "your" fence? You didn't put it in. It is on your neighbors property. It is their fence then. Fences are usually set in about 6 inches or so. What idiot puts sprinkler lines and heads a foot from the property line? All the property owners should have been notified of the boundary adjustment and there should have been a public hearing. Thus, your neighbors KNEW the property lines were changed and knew it when the fence was put in. Apparently they didn't object then. They didn't object when you moved in. They could have told you then. I don't know what it is called but basicly they have forfeited any right of action. There is an argument that they have no claim now.

    Which way does the finished side of the fence face? If it is your fence, the finished side is supposed to face the neighbors. Was there a permit? Was there an inspection? That might have an impact. Of course, we have that rule here and all the neighbors behind me have the finished sides facing in.

    I mean, if it wasn't there, would they like the fact there is no fence. Would they then put in their own fence? It would be about where it is now, or maybe 6 inches over. Is the 6 inches really important to them?

    I heard oral argument in an appeal about this sort of problem. The law is really complicated. In the case I heard, a parking lot neighbor discovered some 25 years after the fact that 3 feet of the parking lot belonged to them. The parking lot certainly doesn't want to give up 3 feet as that makes lots of parking spaces go away. Not sure who won in the trial court.

    You really should talk to a real estate, property rights attorney.

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