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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    5

    Default Neighbor Installed a Fence Without a Clear Understanding of the Boundary Line

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

    I live in a small condominium building in Massachusetts, and someone bought the building next door and is changing it to apartments. The buildings are only 4.5-5’ (feet) apart at the rear. Each of our deed surveys show the property line to be 1.5 feet from our houses. They added a door from their house, with this passage being the access from it to parking in the rear. They have built a fence about less than 2 feet from the end of my house in this passage, and it extends to the rear of the property along the old fence line, which his survey shows to be 2’ into my property further back

    What’s the deal with the no-man's zone between what our two deeds show to be our property? Does he have the right to put a fence and cobblestones there if we object? How does one object about the property line further back, if we want the fence moved? If I have him sign a document in which he agrees that the fence is partly on my land, and I give him license to have it there, does that remove risk of adverse possession? Does that reduce the case for already existing adverse possession?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    18,340

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    Not clear.

    Is his fence ON your property?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    5

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    Where the houses are, both of our deeds show a the distance to the lot line of about 1.5 feet. The actual distance is 4.5 - 5 feet, and the fence being almost 2 feet from my house isn't on anyone's land, as far as our deeds delineate it.
    In the back yard farther back, his deed says it's on my land a couple of feet, and it's hard to tell by mine as there's not a good nearby landmark, and I haven't tried to measure it from a building.
    Neither of our deeds' surveys shows the other house.

  4. #4

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    It's hard to envision what you are describing without seeing it drawn out--it seems an unusual situation. The fence is placed in some sort of town-owned or un-owned land between the properties? That doesn't seem legit. Did you have a survey done when you purchased the land? There should be surveyor pins at the property corners. Perhaps the town can help clarify that strip of land and it's usability.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    Sorry for the confusion, but my own thoughts somehow seemed so clear to me...
    We both had surveys done. I can't find any pins. Are they always placed when a survey is done? His survey is from when he recently purchased the land.
    I assume the 'no-man's land' is not town owned, or unowned, it's must be an imperfection in one or both of the surveys.

    Here is an image of the rear corner of his house on his survey's plan. You can see his surveyor put the rear of his house at 1.2 feet from the property line. My property is to the right of the line, and my survey shows my house to be 1.6 feet from the line, while the actual distance between the houses is 4.5-5 feet. He has a new door below this image, which will be accessed through the space between the buildings. He replaced the vinyl fence indicated with a wooden fence, a nice one, no complaints there, but it is over the line.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,745

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
    View Post
    I live in a small condominium building in Massachusetts, and someone bought the building next door and is changing it to apartments. The buildings are only 4.5-5’ (feet) apart at the rear. Each of our deed surveys show the property line to be 1.5 feet from our houses.
    I'm not following this. If there's 4.5-5 feet between the buildings, then a property line exactly halfway between the buildings would be 2.25-2.5 feet from each building. Are you saying that each of the two surveys depicts a different location for the property line? If so, obviously one of them is wrong (or maybe both are wrong), unless there's a skinny sliver of property running between the two properties that some third person owns, which would seem to be rather unlikely.

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
    View Post
    They added a door from their house, with this passage being the access from it to parking in the rear.
    I assume "they" and "their" refer to the owners of the neighboring property. Correct? And are you saying that this door exits into the 4.5-5 foot space between the two buildings?

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
    View Post
    What’s the deal with the no-man's zone between what our two deeds show to be our property?
    Huh?

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
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    Does he have the right to put a fence and cobblestones there if we object?
    I'm not sure who "we" are. However, if you're a condo owner, by definition, you don't any part of the land on which the building in which your condo is located sits. Thus, this would be a matter for your HOA to address (if at all).

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
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    How does one object about the property line further back, if we want the fence moved?
    Verbally or in writing.

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
    View Post
    If I have him sign a document in which he agrees that the fence is partly on my land, and I give him license to have it there, does that remove risk of adverse possession?
    As noted above, as a condo owner, you have no interest in the land, so this is a moot question. I also don't know what "have him sign" means. As far as "adverse possession," possession under a license obviously wouldn't be adverse.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    5

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    I live in a small condominium building in Massachusetts, and someone bought the building next door and is changing it to apartments. The buildings are only 4.5-5’ (feet) apart at the rear. Each of our deed surveys show the property line to be 1.5 feet from our houses.
    >I'm not following this. If there's 4.5-5 feet between the buildings, then a property line exactly halfway between the buildings would be 2.25-2.5 feet from each building. Are you saying that each of the two surveys depicts a different location for the property line? If so, obviously one of them is wrong (or maybe both are wrong), unless there's a skinny sliver of property running between the two properties that some third person owns, which would seem to be rather unlikely.
    Yes you following, everything you said is correct. There is no third owner. Unless... both surveys are correct and there's some kind of warp in time-space out behind my house.

    I assume "they" and "their" refer to the owners of the neighboring property. Correct?
    Yes.

    And are you saying that this door exits into the 4.5-5 foot space between the two buildings?
    Actually, it exits below the bottom left of the image, where "their" house is farther from mine, so the door exits into a wider space, and then one would need to cross a narrower space.

    What’s the deal with the no-man's zone between what our two deeds show to be our property?
    I'm asking about space between the two properties, where neither survey claim's it's house to own. I was wondering if such errors are common or uncommon, and how one deals with it, and whether the next door developer is allowed to build a fence on it, although his own survey does not claim the land.

    Does he have the right to put a fence and cobblestones there if we object?
    >I'm not sure who "we" are. However, if you're a condo owner, by definition, you don't any part of the land on which the building in which your condo is located sits. Thus, this would be a matter for your HOA to address (if at all).
    "Me", "mine", "we" and etc. all refer to my building's condo association. "He", "they", "their" and "forces of evil" refer to the owner of the house next door. We are a three unit condo association in one house, so we three owners come to a consensus on issues, and act as one in dealing with the house next door. It's different from a large association where consensus is difficult.

    How does one object about the property line further back, if we want the fence moved?
    >Verbally or in writing.
    Then, after he ignores us, the only option is to hire a lawyer?

    If I have him sign a document in which he agrees that the fence is partly on my land, and I give him license to have it there, does that remove risk of adverse possession?
    >As noted above, as a condo owner, you have no interest in the land, so this is a moot question.
    I assume that the President and Trustees of my condo building, the three of us, have the same interest in the land and rights with regard to property laws as a single homeowner would?

    As far as "adverse possession," possession under a license obviously wouldn't be adverse.
    Yes, so, if we had "him", the owner next door, sign such a document, would that secure us against losing title to land at the edge of "our" property even if it remained on the other side of a fence from our property, and was being used by the residents next door? After the term of license expired, if at some future time we needed more space, or if the fence needed to be replaced, we could then have it moved back to it's correct position?

    I don't know how many people got this far, but thank you for reading through my confusing descriptions.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    Quote Quoting Apple Seed
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    Yes you following, everything you said is correct. There is no third owner. Unless... both surveys are correct and there's some kind of warp in time-space out behind my house.
    At the end of the day, if you want the fence moved, you'll have to get the other owner to agree to it or take the matter to the court.

    The owner of the land should seek to resolve the dispute (if it's really a dispute) about where the boundary line is located. You've mentioned two surveys, but I don't think you said for what purposes those surveys were done. Presumably, there's a county record that indicates a boundary line. Ultimately, the thing to do might be for both the owner of the land where your condo exists and the owner of the neighboring property to jointly hire a surveyor to determine the boundary line.

    Ultimately, your HOA should consult with a local real estate attorney.

    Quote Quoting EJay
    View Post
    Property boundaries are rarely based off of structures, they are based off of a Cartesian grid thats laid out over the surface of the earth.
    That's true in some places. Not in others, and it's rare for that to be the case in east coast states. In those states, boundaries are often based on things like trees and buried survey markers.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    5

    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    @EJay
    Cartesian grid thats laid out over the surface of the earth.
    ? I'm standing on the earth, and I don't see it. Looking at the site plans, as best I can understand it, that "cartesian grid" is the street. There are distances from the street, and a distance to the end of the block to the lot line also. So, what happens if the street is repaved, and new curbs vary in where they are located? As you see, distances are also given from the buildings to the lot line.
    Each plan only shows it's house, and distance to the property line, but not the other house. There's obviously some error somewhere. I'm not sure what a new survey would find, since a survey was just done by the developer who bought the house next door to me.
    I could find no surveyor's markers (I assume that's what "property corners" are). I've never noticed them about here in Massachusetts, maybe it's not routine (or, I don't usually look for them).

    @pj1067 The surveys were done as part of the process when each house was purchased, and mine converted to condos, and his renovated for fancy apartments for I'm not sure what purpose.
    you'll have to get the other owner to agree to it or take the matter to the court.
    It doesn't look like he'll agree. His project manager lied to me and played me for a fool, but I haven't finished communicating with the owner.
    buried survey markers.
    What does that mean? That the marker is old, and buried by sediment over time, or it's actually buried after it is placed? If so, how do I find it, or use it?

    Thank you both for your comments.

    He took down the previous fence, on our property according to his survey, without consulting my condo. I informed him almost 2 years previously about the fence being over the border on his survey, and asked him to respect the boundary. The week before the fence was put up I told his project manager, and again as they started work. They put it up where they pleased anyway.
    If he has the right to do that, do I have any right to take down, or move his fence? Why do I have to hire surveyors or a lawyer, but he can do as he pleases?
    Suppose I say I hate fine, solid wood, and prefer white vinyl. Could I insist that he either restore the original fence, or we'll discuss where the new fence should be located?
    Are boundary fences required if they already exist? Do we have the option of saying we don't want one?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
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    Default Re: He Built a Fence Between Where Each of Our Deeds End, and on My Land

    I'm a bit confused.

    You keep saying that you have a condo but that you have a house with property. Are you saying that your home is on a larger development with property that is also owned by the HOA/Board/whatever you want to call it? If yes, it's possible that you only own the 1.5' of land from the structure and the HOA owns the remainder.

    Site drawings for construction aren't really a great way to determine property boundaries. They may get you started but aren't always the most accurate.

    In any event, as noted above, in order to make any headway, if the neighbor doesn't accede to your wishes you'll have to go to court.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

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