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  1. #1

    Default What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

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

    Hi folks,

    First time here, and it's probably a good start.

    The history: I just bought a house in Arizona described as 1.2 Acres. I've lived there for 4 months.

    It was on a whim really when I went to the Maricopa County Parcel map to look at the house. It was there I realized that the actual boundary wasn't where my fence to the neighbors parcel was located.
    It's a rhombus-type shaped parcel, and the boundary online is the same direction as my fence, only 17 yards apart. I was blown away.. for whatever reason, the physical fence between our parcels was 17 yards off, in my deficit. So to double check, there's a google-app site that calculates square footage. My fenced in area is only 1 acre, exact. I'm .2 short. Their property on the online map doesn't list the "contested" property as well. Apparently there's just a very large fence splitting the two parcels, and it's 17 yards off.

    It's not 3 feet, or 5 or ten. (I wouldn't pursue a course of action for that). 17 yards? That's pretty substantial. From 2011 photos in google earth I can tell the fence has been there at least that long.

    Is the title company liable for this mistake? I was supposed to have bought 1.2 acres..

    Thanks in advance..

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Property Dispute in Arizona

    People do not always fence their entire acreage. Is the 17 feet you are talking about inside someone else's fenced area or is it just not fenced in at all?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Property Dispute in Arizona

    Oh it's fully enclosed into the neighbors yard - as part of their boundary.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    Quote Quoting Pathfinder2017
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    Is the title company liable for this mistake? I was supposed to have bought 1.2 acres..
    there could be no mistake here. You bought the property that is described in your deed, just because there is a fence in the wrong place doesn't mean you don't own the property you bought.

    What has the neighbor said about this issue?

    If you want to get the fence moved you'll need to get a current survey to be able to prove exactly where the boundary is located before you can push to reclaim the property.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    Quote Quoting yyz0
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    there could be no mistake here. You bought the property that is described in your deed, just because there is a fence in the wrong place doesn't mean you don't own the property you bought.

    What has the neighbor said about this issue?

    If you want to get the fence moved you'll need to get a current survey to be able to prove exactly where the boundary is located before you can push to reclaim the property.
    It may not be that simple. While the deed may describe the property that OP should have title to, the neighbor may have gained an interest in the property also depending on the history of the two properties.

    There are two common law doctrines that come into play. The first is adverse possession which in Arizona the statute of limitations (SOL) is as little as two years or as long as 10 years depending on the other elements of the doctrine. The second is boundary by acquiescence which has a SOL of ten years.

    Generally, to establish the doctrine of boundary by acquiescence, the party asserting the doctrine must prove (1) occupation or possession of property up to a clearly defined line, (2) mutual acquiescence by the adjoining landowners in that line as the dividing line between their properties, and (3) continued acquiescence for a long period of time. Davis v. Mitchell, 628 A.2d 657, 660 (Me.1993); Platt v. Martinez, 90 N.M. 323, 563 P.2d 586, 587 (1977); Knox v. Bogan, 322 S.C. 64, 472 S.E.2d 43, 49 (Ct.App.1996); Staker v. Ainsworth, 785 P.2d 417, 420 (Utah 1990); Kurtis A. Kemper, Cause of Action to Establish Boundary by Acquiescence of Adjoining Landowners, 3 COA 2d 729, 743 5 (1993). In Arizona, the required period of time for acquiescence is ten years, the same as that for adverse possession. A.R.S. 12-526(A) (2003); Hein, 66 Ariz. at 114, 184 P.2d at 661.[2]
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...86689008976698

    So when the fence was build (how long it has been there), why it was built there, and what OP's predecessors did or didn't do about it could all be factors in determining if the neighbor has a vested interest in the disputed property.

    This something that a title company should have caught. If OP has owner's title policy, I would definitely file a claim. It may not be so easy to get the neighbor to move the fence and I do not recommend that OP resort to self-help. OP needs an attorney to review this and offer the best way to try to reclaim the property.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    It may not be that simple. While the deed may describe the property that OP should have title to, the neighbor may have gained an interest in the property also depending on the history of the two properties.

    There are two common law doctrines that come into play. The first is adverse possession which in Arizona the statute of limitations (SOL) is as little as two years or as long as 10 years depending on the other elements of the doctrine. The second is boundary by acquiescence which has a SOL of ten years.



    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...86689008976698

    So when the fence was build (how long it has been there), why it was built there, and what OP's predecessors did or didn't do about it could all be factors in determining if the neighbor has a vested interest in the disputed property.

    This something that a title company should have caught. If OP has owner's title policy, I would definitely file a claim. It may not be so easy to get the neighbor to move the fence and I do not recommend that OP resort to self-help. OP needs an attorney to review this and offer the best way to try to reclaim the property.
    The OP needs a survey first...before ANYTHING else is done.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    I would not spend the money on a survey just yet. For one thing OP probably has a survey plat of his property or can get one from the county. He/she has already viewed the GIS mapping of the Maricopa County Parcel map showing that the fence is on his property and where his boundary is. Those maps a pretty accurate. OP also has aerial photos from 2011 and if he/she searches for older satellite images will likely find them on GIS websites.

    So OP can be pretty certain that the fence and his boundary is where he thinks it is. The money at this point would be better spent on having an attorney send a letter to the neighbor stating the facts and asking that they move the fence. There is plenty of time to spend the money on a survey to prove what OP already knows and probably so does the neighbor.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    Actually, I don't know where you are, but the registration of the aerial photos on our county GIS site and their marking of the structures and the property lines are usually pretty lousy.
    The plats done for mortgages are usually just house location plats and don't necessarily accurately place fences either.

    A letter from a lawyer might have a tiny bit more weight than a friend request from a neighbor, but he's going to need a survey if he wants to take serious action. Frankly, even if the neighbor was willing to MOVE the fence, you'd want a survey to place the boundary precisely so the fence could be constructed in the right place.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    GIS mapping is only as good as the company hired to do it. But it gets more accurate every year.

    The Maricopa County Parcel map (link above) is very good. They update there satellite base maps every year. You can see all the features on the property and the tax map boundaries. So I would be comfortable with that until I need something else.

    The point is that the fence is 51 feet inside OP's boundary (.2 acres). Would you just say to your neighbor, "ok, I'll move it."

  10. #10

    Default Re: What Happens if You Discover That a Fence Line is Not Actually the Property Line

    Thanks everyone,

    I really appreciate the insight. The occupants in that house are renting- I wont be able to walk over and have a beer with the owner. I think I'll call the Title Company and go from there. If they don't do a survey, (and I'm thinking they will) I'll have it done.

    This fence has been here a long time- I even went back to 2004 Google and saw it there. Both houses were built in 1987. It's possible it's been there even that long!

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