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  1. #1

    Default How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Pennslvania.
    Seven yrs. ago we allowed our new neighbors to put a partial fence a foot in on our property using our exsisting fence line which has been there for over 35 yrs. We have recently become at odds with our neighbors. He has told us he will take his fence off our property numerous times and assumes we are putting one up in its place. He has yet to remove his fence even though we have told him that we want his fence off our property. We have no intension of putting up a new fence on this portion of our property since we have no need of one, he is the one that needs the fence to pasture his horses. The wire that spans both his portion of the fence and our fence is his. Can we carefully remove the wire from our fence and take our portion of the fence down? We have previously caught he and his wife trying to steal rails out of our fence. This as well as other things have put us at odds. What must we do to force him to remove his fence from our property? What notification do we need to give him advising him if he does not remove his fence we will be removing it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    Pennsylvania's unconsolidated statutes include provisions on fences, including division (boundary) fences between farms or ranches. One such provision:
    Quote Quoting 41. Division fences; proceedings to compel erection or part payment
    Be it enacted, &c., That from and after the passage of this act, owners of improved and occupied land shall erect and maintain an equal part of all line or division fences between them, nor shall any such owner be relieved from liability under the provisions of this act except by the consent of the adjoining owner. And if any owner of such improved and occupied land shall fail or neglect to erect or maintain his, her, or their share of such line or division fence the party aggrieved shall notify the county surveyor or, if there is no county surveyor in the county, then a county surveyor of any adjoining county, or, if the county surveyor in any adjoining county refuses to act, a surveyor appointed by a judge of the court of common pleas, who shall act as a fence viewer and whose duty it shall be to examine such line or division fence, so complained of; and if he finds said fence sufficient, the complainant shall pay the cost of his service; but if he finds such fence insufficient, he shall so report to a justice of the peace or alderman, residing in the county where such fence is located, designating points and distances of such fence, whether a new fence is required or whether the old one can be repaired, and the probable costs of a new, or the repair of the old, fence; and said justice or alderman shall notify the delinquent owner of such improved and occupied land of the surveyor's report, and that his part of said fence, as found by the surveyor, be erected or repaired within forty days from the date of such notice; and if such notice be not complied with, the aggrieved party may cause said line or division fence to be erected or repaired, and the costs thereof collected, including the charge of the surveyor, from the delinquent owner of such improved and occupied land, as other debts are collected by law. The surveyor shall be entitled to such payment for acting as a fence viewer as he may fix, not, however, exceeding twenty-five dollars. Where the surveyor reports that he finds the fence complained of sufficient, the amount payable to the surveyor shall be paid by the complainant, but where he reports the fence insufficient, the amount payable to him shall be paid by the delinquent owner of such improved or occupied land: Provided, That no owner of improved land shall be compelled to build or repair fence during the months of December, January, February, and March: And provided further, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to apply to railroad companies.
    Broadly speaking, a line or division fences are "fences that are on property lines or that mark a division between areas of land". Fogle v. Malvern Courts, Inc., 554 Pa. 633, 722 A.2d 680 (1999). I am not clear as to whether your land might qualify as a farm or a ranch, although it appears that your neighbor's land qualifies by virtue of his keeping livestock and it seems likely that your property is similarly zoned. (That fence law does not apply to urban or suburban homes.)

    If you remove his fence and thereby allow his horses to escape from confinement, you could be creating significant liability for yourselves if the horses, for example, wander and cause a car accident. Before you even consider removing part of the fence you should discuss your possible liability with your insurance agent. You might also find yourself subject to an action to restore the fence, or to share the cost of building a permanent boundary fence.

    You can file an action in court for ejectment, an order compelling your neighbor to remove his fence, but that will require that you invest time and money in litigation. Within that context, also, you will need to consider if the consequence of having the neighbor remove his fence to the property line will cause you to incur a cost under the statute presented above.

    Given the potential complications, I think you should discuss the details of your situation with a real estate lawyer in order to get a definitive answer in relation to your rights, and so that you can determine the best way to proceed.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    At first blush, one might think that this situation is a simple one because you gave the neighbor permission to erect the fence on your property so you can also tell him to remove it. And if he does not, then you remove it for him. But I think it is more complicated than that because of the livestock issue and the boundary fence law in PA.

    41. Division fences; proceedings to compel erection or part payment

    The original legislative intent of the this boundary fence law was to limit liability from trespassing livestock. The owners of adjoining properties were equally responsibility for erecting and maintaining the fence on or near the boundary. But there has since been case law in PA that says that an adjacent property owner that does not keep livestock is not responsible for the fence.

    So I would suggest that you run your situation by an attorney before you take any precipitous action.

    4 minutes late. Great minds think alike

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    as long as his horses were not in the pasture when we took down our fence would not liability then fall on him for putting his horses in an unfenced pasture. At that point there would only be two ways for him to fence in his property. 1. illegally putting the fence back where we just removed our portion of the fence. 2. He would have to put a fence down his property line legally.
    This seems to take the liability off of us since the horses would not be in the pasture. We would not take the fence down if the horses were in the pasture next to our property. The neighbors do have two pastures. We would not knowingly endanger the horses.

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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    I would get legal advice before doing that. It's likely that they can claim that as far as they knew, the fence was in place, especially if they have a lawyer who is familiar with the local laws. As stated above, it _seems_ simple, but probably isn't. That the "fence line" has been in place for so long may complicate matters as well, but that needs someone more familiar with local ordinances. I second (or rather "third") the local lawyer suggestion. S/he can clarify your position. If you really don't want to involve an attorney, I would suggest that you inform them in writing that you withdraw permission for the fence, and request that their part be removed by such and such a date, after which you will remove it for them. Then you'll see what happens. I would send a copy to local law enforcement, so that when your neighbor calls them, they have an idea what is going on.

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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    Quote Quoting Catmad
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    I would send a copy to local law enforcement, so that when your neighbor calls them, they have an idea what is going on.
    That's not going to help. There's no mechanism by which "law enforcement" is going to be able to pull up a randomly received letter about a fence dispute if they receive a call about vandalism and/or trespass.

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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    Quote Quoting chunkydumplin
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    as long as his horses were not in the pasture when we took down our fence would not liability then fall on him for putting his horses in an unfenced pasture. At that point there would only be two ways for him to fence in his property. 1. illegally putting the fence back where we just removed our portion of the fence. 2. He would have to put a fence down his property line legally.
    This seems to take the liability off of us since the horses would not be in the pasture. We would not take the fence down if the horses were in the pasture next to our property. The neighbors do have two pastures. We would not knowingly endanger the horses.
    What you are contemplating and leaving the pasture open will not absolve you from liability. If you do not keep livestock on your property, then under the case law you are not responsible for the maintenances and cost of the fence. However, you can't remove it without replacing it or working with your neighbor to replace it.

    The fence is on or near the property line. Surely one foot is near the line. If you need to reclaim that one foot (for spite I add) after 35 years, I suggest you jog the partial fence back onto your neighbor's property and replace it on the boundary line.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    The whole idea is to get the neighbor to supply his own fence in which he seems not to want to do. He seem to expect us to supply him with a fence and not want to go to the expense to have his property surveyed and then erect his own fence . He seem to expect to use our property line and existing partial fence line then only have to put up the partial fence we allowed him to do. Once he created this bad situation and said he would remove his fence from our property numerous times and has not done so is what has started us to seek out to get his fence off our property it is not about a foot of property it is all about him supplying his own fence for him animals on his property not us supplying a fence for his animals on our property people must realize that this is what the point is!!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    Mr. Knowitall wrote;"That's not going to help. There's no mechanism by which "law enforcement" is going to be able to pull up a randomly received letter about a fence dispute if they receive a call about vandalism and/or trespass."

    My apologies. In a similar situation, the Sherriff's Dept. suggested that I inform them in writing of the disputed fence, and CC the lawyer letter. I don't know why. Seemed like a "can't hurt, might help".

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    Default Re: How Do We Remove a Neighbor's Fence from Our Property

    Quote Quoting chunkydumplin
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    The whole idea is to get the neighbor to supply his own fence in which he seems not to want to do. He seem to expect us to supply him with a fence and not want to go to the expense to have his property surveyed and then erect his own fence . He seem to expect to use our property line and existing partial fence line then only have to put up the partial fence we allowed him to do. Once he created this bad situation and said he would remove his fence from our property numerous times and has not done so is what has started us to seek out to get his fence off our property it is not about a foot of property it is all about him supplying his own fence for him animals on his property not us supplying a fence for his animals on our property people must realize that this is what the point is!!!
    You say that reclaiming your property is not the point but rather to have your neighbor spend money to replace what is already in place. I wouldn't want to have to explain that motivation to a court some day.

    The points that you don't seem to get are 1) you created this situation 7 years ago by giving your neighbor permission to put the fence where he did. Now 7 years later because you are mad at the neighbor, you want to cause him to spend some money. Where is the equity in that? What do you get? The situation might be different had you not given your neighbor permission.

    And 2) PA has a boundary fence law when dealing with livestock that applies to you.

    Your original question was what can you do to force the neighbor to remove his fence and you were told that you could file a court action for ejectment and speak with an attorney. I might also suggest that you discuses the matter with your insurance company for their input. Self-help is not the way to go here.

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