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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    1

    Default Boundary Dispute After Survey, Despite Long-Standing Fence

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

    This boundary problem involves myself and two neighbors who I will refer to as Neighbor 1 and Neighbor 2.

    My home was purchased by my parents and I 14 years ago from a lady who had owned it for 42 years prior to sale.

    Neighbor 1's home is adjacent to mine and has been owned by him for 8 years. He rented it approximately 7 years prior to purchasing, and the house has been there for 25+ years.

    Neighbor 2's home is adjacent to and on the opposite side of Neighbor 1. He has lived there for at least 14 years and I assume he owns the home. The home also looks like it has been there for 25+ years.

    I want to maintain our current friendly relationship with Neighbor 1 but I do not know Neighbor 2 very well.
    All three homes have "woven wire" fenced in back yards that have been there at least 14 years ( more likely 25+ years).

    Apparently someone in the neighborhood has done a survey during the past year, and stakes were placed in the back alley approximately 2 ft. "off" our fence corners. Neither I or Neighbor 1 had noticed these stakes until this past week when Neighbor 2 announced that he was taking possesion of the 2 foot strip between him and Neighbor 1. He also sprayed some shrubbery and mowed the grass inside Neighbor 1's fenceline when no one was home. Now Neighbor 1 is all upset and wants to put up a privacy fence around his back yard. Naturally, he would like to put it 2 ft into my side of our current separating fence. This would be in line with the metal survey stake in the back alley. Actually, I wouldn't mind getting a new fence, but I have a 10 X 16 storage building up against the current fenceline, and there are trees and shrubs in the current fenceline.

    Questions:

    Do the survey stakes in the back alley really give us any reliable and or legal indication of where the property lines really are?
    If the current fences really are off the property lines by 2 ft., isn't there some statute of limitations, etc. that come into play here?
    How should I proceed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Boundary Dispute After Survey, Despite Long-Standing Fence

    You could try calling the surveyor who set the stakes and explain your concerns. Also ask him to explain the reasons for why he placed the corners in locations that appear to fly in the face of long established physical evidence of the true line(s). As an aside, I have to concede that your neighbor's surveyor may have placed the lines correctly. I haven't heard both sides, so I can only respond based on your post.

    Failing efforts to convince him to re-evaluate his results, you and your affected neighbors should get your own survey. Ask local real estate agents and local real estate attorneys which local surveyor they feel is best qualified to perform boundary surveys. Try not to make money an issue - a good surveyor with a good reputation will be worth the price. Also, try to get the survey done soon, before any fences are torn down or other important physical evidence is obliterated. You should understand going into this process that there is no guarantee that your surveyor will come up with a different result than the other surveyor. As I stated before, not all the facts are known making it difficult to respond with a definitive answer.

    Based on what you have posted, my gut feeling is you may be the victim of a "deed-staker"; in other words a surveyor who holds precise measurements in higher regard than physical evidence. In general, this is the wrong approach to surveying boundaries. As a surveyor, one of our highest creeds is to do the public no harm. Deed-stakers are notorious for swooping into neighborhoods and causing havoc by placing the line in a location other than long established and harmonious physical occupation lines.

    You and your neighbor(s) may also want to retain an attorney; especially if destruction of physical evidence is looming. Your attorney can send letters, etc. to the neighbor ordering him to hold off on any destruction until your survey is complete.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    314

    Default Re: Boundary Dispute After Survey, Despite Long-Standing Fence

    Is there any chance that you could obtain a copy of the survey from your local town registry? It's probably registered already??? Additionally, it would be nice if neighbor #2 made an attempt to keep you and neighbor #1 informed? Ticking off two neighbors is not a good strategy on the part of #2. Any chance here for an open dialog?

    Cheers,

    B

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Boundary Dispute After Survey, Despite Long-Standing Fence

    Quote Quoting Newtons_Apple
    View Post

    Based on what you have posted, my gut feeling is you may be the victim of a "deed-staker"; in other words a surveyor who holds precise measurements in higher regard than physical evidence. In general, this is the wrong approach to surveying boundaries. As a surveyor, one of our highest creeds is to do the public no harm. Deed-stakers are notorious for swooping into neighborhoods and causing havoc by placing the line in a location other than long established and harmonious physical occupation lines.
    .
    Are you suggesting a surveyor re-establish boundary lines when there is a clearly defined description of the property? While a surveyor is allowed to reconcile differences, especially when landmarks are the basis for points of reference, they cannot arbitrarily alter the boundary lines, especially if the person hiring the surveyor has requested a survey of their property per the description in the deed. A boundary line alteration such as being discussed here needs to be addressed in the courts if there are any challenges to what the legal description encompasses.

    If the boundary lines have been altered by adverse possession, acquiescence, or mutual agreement, it is not official until the "new" line has been recorded in the property description. Until that point, the property line is where it is stated in the deed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Boundary Dispute After Survey, Despite Long-Standing Fence

    I mis-spoke when I used the words "harmonious physical occupation lines."

    My point was attempting to address the "quasi-judicial" role of the surveyor. I am guilty of drawing a conclusion based upon assumptions in this case. Let me explain:

    1. I assumed that there were no original monuments found on the ground for the parcels, or that there were no physical monuments called for in the record (which occurs frequently in older deeds and plats). In other words, the best evidence for the true line(s) were the fence lines.

    In a case like that, the surveyor is not altering the boundary line. Rather, he is showing the boundary on the ground based upon the best evidence found. A case in Maine reads:

    "We consistently have held that what boundaries a deed refers to is a question of law, while the location of those boundaries on the face of the earth is a question of fact. If facts extrinsic to the deed reveal a latent ambiguity, then we determine the intent from contemporaneous circumstances and from standard rules of construction. A basic rule is that boundaries are controlled, in descending priority, by monuments, courses, distances, and quantity, unless this priority produces absurd results. The physical disappearance of a monument does not end its use in defining a boundary if its former location can be ascertained." [Theriault v. Murray, 588 A.2d 720, 721, 722 (Me.1991)]

    And in Texas: "The primary objective in locating a survey is to “follow the footsteps of the surveyor”; by which is meant to trace on the ground the lines as he actually ran them in making the survey. … When the actual lines run by the surveyor can be found, they constitute the true boundary and cannot be made to yield to course and distance calls." [TH Investments v. Kirby Inland Marine, 218 S.W.3d 173, 204 (Tex.App.2007)]

    I do understand your point. It is not our place to alter record boundary lines. In my opinion, the neighbor's surveyor should have brought the OP and his/her client together and then shown the line as he staked it to both parties. This goes toward the duty to do no harm - if I stake a line and it does not land on or near the fence, I consider it my duty to inform both adjoiners. But, sometimes a client will request that the surveyor not discuss the work with anyone, effectively tying his hands.

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