I could be wrong but I believe you can never gain ownership of government
property such as road right of ways or alleys by "Adverse Possession". I
suppose because there is no owner there to observe whether or not you are
using the land without permission. On the other hand, around here, when an
alley is abandoned by the city, the city usually deeds ownership to the the
adjacent property owners...gets it onto the tax rolls that way.
Well, you probably *own* your half of the alley but the city has an easement
which presumably has not been abandoned. So, you have the right to possibly
limited use of the alley until they want to restore it, if ever. A city
may abandon its easement if a sufficient reason is shown. If future
restoration is likely, building on the easement would be at your risk,
How about small claims court? Here in California you can get a judgment up
to $5,000. You can then attach his wages or put a lien on his house or car.
Your only cost would be the filing fee which would probably be less than
Don in Tracy, Calif.
You say the neighbor said he couldnt respond till he got a survey of his
own? So do you realy beleive he bought the land without a survey !
No , I dont. You simply go to your county records dept, all surveys
are certified and registered, you can pull all surveys on both lands and
even contact the surveyors if you have questions. You can get copies of
all surveys at the records office and then spend some time talking to
city officials on the matter for free. You will get good insight and
good advise. If both surveys match you won, rip it down if you wish.
If they dont match you can file your own case for a judge to rule. But
first if they dont match both surveyors should come out for free,
together. But I bet your neighbor is not only a thief but a liar, as
That depends on what you mean by "a survey". We bought our home twenty
years ago without hiring a surveyor as part of the process. We received
a "mortgage plot plan" which satisfied the bank holding the mortgage,
but it said right on it that the measurements on it locating the house
relative to the property lines were not guaranteed acurate.
I'm not one to throw money away without looking for a lower cost way of
doing things. I did just what you suggested and got copies of the
original surveys of our lot and the neighbor's from our town's building
The problem is, I don't have the accurate equipment and the expertise to
be able to accurately locate lines and corners from those kind of
drawings, especially when I don't even know how to find the reference
points somewhere up or down the street, so I wouldn't even know where to
start measuring from. That's what surveyors get paid for.
It was physically staking out the property lines and corners that I
needed to hire a surveyor for. Now that I've taken photographs and
recorded some measurements to those lines from fixed objects like the
sides of our house I'll be able to locate them again within a few inches
with rather simple measurements.
Interestingly enough the lines this recent survey located were a foot to
two feet "off" relative to the sides of the house compared to those on
that "mortgage plot plan" we got when we bought the place. I'm assuming
the guys who poured the foundation of our house were somewhat casual
about where they located it, probably because none of the distances to
the property lines are dangerously close to the minimum's permitted by
our zoning code.
You can get copies of
I wish I could believe that, but around here the courts are very much an
"insider's game" and not places for a neophyte to venture into alone.
They are also extremely backed up with cases. Unless I was lucky enough
to find a pipeline to a judge I'd expect to get the cold shoulder if
he/she encountered me trying to initiate an action without proper legal
I wouldn't bet against you on that point, but I prefer to just lump
those two definitions together and just think of him as "that asshole".
I suggest we just agree to a difference of opinion on whether or not I
should have turned this matter into a major battle with the neighbor. I
chose not to because I couldn't see the end being worth the means.
My name is Jeff Wisnia and I approved this message....
I would suggest that you haven't really appreciated what the ends will
be. Sooner or later, this will have to be resolved, even if its only
when one of you sells the property, or you die and your heirs have to
deal with it.
I suggest you initiate a plan of action that will make your neighbor buy
the property he has taken. That would be an amicable resolution.
I wouldn't wait around, as he is apparently comfortable doing nothing
and hoping you will forget it.
The first step is to send him another certified/return receipt letter
demanding payment within 30 days of all past due rent. Set your rate of
rent very high; he has no rental contract, so it is up to you to set the
rate, and if it is high he will be encouraged to do something.
If he makes an offer then, work it out. If he does nothing, wait thirty
days and get a lawyer and sue him for the past due rent. At the same
juncture, send another letter demanding payment of the additional rent
he has run up (the lawyer might want to send this letter). When you get
the lawyer, let the lawyer know that you are willing to sell the
property, but you want to be made whole. This case will probably never
get to court, as your lawyer will be able to settle on terms that will
resolve the problem and possibly even get back the cost of your survey.
I would think the legal costs would be relatively low; your initial
consultation will probably be free, and at that time the lawyer can
advise you what he thinks the whole cost will be.
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
Rent is not the issue for Jeff it is ownership. I am going through
adverse possesion now. It will cost more to settle this later if you
wait, if surveys show his fence is over the line then the expense of a
lawyer is not needed or warranted. You ask him to aknowledge his fence
is over the line and he has no claim to your land and you in writing
give him permission to use it, thereby breaking the chain of possesion
he started. If he dissagrees tear his fence down and put up your own if
you wish. Waiting only increases his claim. When minimum legal time has
passed then your problems will require an Atty. Now his case if he files
is frivilous., baseless Frivilous lawsuits are illegal and open you to
collect damages and court and atty costs. Waiting will cost you more in
the end, much more. Sooner or later this will be legaly addresed, later
at much cost. Now its free, your time, waiting can cost 5-10,000.
Simply because of the way this asshole acted, I would not turn the other
cheek. So many times, issues become issues because the culprit acts like an
asshole. If he made a genuine apology and offered to do what he could to
make things right, I suspect you would be happy to leave him have the land
for free. I think I would.
Yes I would be happy to let him have that little bit of land for free,
as long as "free" meant he paid all the legal and associated expenses of
relocating the property line. I'd be pleased just seeing our property
tax bill drop by about $80 a year because of the reduced square footage
of our lot.<G>
But, I suspect that the neighbor won't buy that either, because *his*
property taxes would go up, and according to a friend in our town who
just had to go through a property line relocation to get an extra couple
of feet to meet minimum clearance requirement for adding an addition to
his house, the legal, surveying, recording, and miscellaneous other
expenses for doing that ran him over $3,000. (Things aren't cheap here
in Red Sox Country, and the Great Commonwealth of Taxachusetts has
raised the "user fees" for things like recording deeds and stuff to
unbelievable levels to feed the Commonwealth budget. Don't get me
But, based on the advice I received here I think I'll try and get him to
countersign a letter acknowledging that he's using my land at my
pleasure and agreeing not to claim adverse possession at a future date.
There's no doubt that the improvements those new neighbors made in their
backyard greatly improved the "view" looking down from my side. The
previous owners were nice enough folks, but the guy was in the building
trades and the far end of the yard had a decrepit looking shed on it
surrounded by ladders, tires, 5 gallon buckets, and other trappings of
his profession, all of which have been replaced by lawn, flowers and shrubs.
That previous appearance didn't turn me off, and we saw it was there
when we bought our home, but it might have ruffled the sensibilities of
someone less tool and DIY oriented than I am if we had we wanted to sell
our property back then.
I've long held that property rights with respect to appearance should
extend only to the edge of your property, and I'm not in favor of
restrictions which affect what a neighbor can do or not do appearance
wise on his property. For that reason I'll probably never end up buying
our retirement home in a "gated community" with those kind of
restrictions, subject to the whims and the "tastes" of the others folks
Case in point, and I hope I haven't posted this here before. Our next
door neighbors of some 15 years, whom we've always had a good
relationship with, struck it rich through years of hard work in the
Pizza business and magnificently enlarged their home last year. Part of
their improvements involved building an elevated ramp and parking area
for the driveway (heated no less) feeding their new garage.
The guys who did that part of the job were not very particular about the
appearance of what they left us looking at on their edge of the property
line, so I decided to improve the view from our side by planting a row
of 16 Arborvitae bushes next to it, on our side of the line.
When my neighbor saw me and my son schlepping those bushes back from the
nursery and digging holes to plant them in, he came over and insisted on
paying for them. I countered by telling him that an equivalent check to
a local charity we support would make me quite happy, and he did just
that the next day. A much nicer nice end to the story than my sitting
around bitching about it, dontcha' think?
I documented this one for my friends' amusement at:
My name is Jeff Wisnia and I approved this message....
Jeff from my experience presently being sued for adverse possesion ,
take photos of everything now, things not even relavent, and everything
you do. So many times I have seen new things in those old photos that
are helping me now. Digital is best and cheapest as a disk of photos is
alot cheaper than prints which you nay never need. Im up to apx 40
rolls, money which would have been better spent on digital.
No similar experience here, but common sense tells me you can establish
title to the property through adverse possession by demonstrating clear and
convincing evidence of actual, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, and
hostile possession. Its called "adverse possession." Look it up.
Interesting question. Unless you want to move it, he certainly can't make
you do so; you didn't put it there. However, since it is on his property,
you can't use it either.
Are you are asking if you have the right to use the property by right of
adverse possession. The laws vary widely so I can't give you any advice but
to ask a local real estate attorney; even then it will probably up to a
judge to decide if it was adverse enough. Do you want use of the shed
enough to go through this?
Try a google search on the term and you will see what I am getting at.
I have a built up parking area built on my property, but it blocks a
neighbor's right of way. I bought it 5 years ago, and it was like that for
10 years before that. My lawyer advised me to try to get along with my
neighbor, for it is not clear what would happen if he demanded I remove it.
(My neighbor "pointed it out" to me when he asked if he could regrade
another part of the right of way. Sure, no problem!)
Toller , the owner of the land can remove what is Over his line, yes
with a chainsaw, I did. Whether he wants to fight it or should depends
on alot of factors. A friendly settlement is always best as Adverse
Possesion can get nasty, fast.
This should have been caught when you bought the house. I would think
the title insurance company has some liability.
How much is the shed worth? It might be easiest to tear it down, or
pour a new slab and move it.
As others have mentioned, you have a claim to the land under the shed
through "adverse posession", but the state laws regarding such vary
widely from state to state. You should look into it; it at least gives
you a better bargaining position for dealing with your neighbor.
Other legal terms to look up are "encroachment" and "easement".
I agree. Call the title insurance company and/or lawyer who did the
closing. You should have been advised if the shed was an exception to good
title. If not let them pay to move it or settle the issue. Tell the
neighbor that you did not know it was over the line when you bought the
house and you are looking for the title company and closing attorney to fix
the problem to both of your benefits.
We knew from the survey that one corner of our shed encroaches 6 in.
into the neighbor's property (at the back), and if we have to move it
sometime, we will, I guess; there is no slab, so it probably won't be
difficult to move. I don't know when the shed was erected, and I don't
know whether the neighbor knows about the encroachment. I am almost
certainly mowing part of his property when I mow around the back of the
By analogy with the case of the tree branch growing into a neighbor's
property, according to English law (parts of which the US *may* have
inherited or adopted), the neighbor would have the right to demolish the
part of the shed that intrudes into his property (but no more than that)
but would have to return it to me because it (the shed) is my property.
OTOH, a tree with a branch cut off is still a perfectly good tree,
whereas a shed with the corner cut off is not much good for anything, so
I wonder whether the law would allow the neighbor to cut it off without
any attempt to resolve the matter some other way first.
On 09/22/04 11:41 am Art put fingers to keyboard and launched the
following message into cyberspace:
If it would be a fairly expensive proposition, never underestimate the
power of cash on the table. The OP should invite the neighbor over,
letting him know that he's concerned about the situation and willing to
work something out. Ask the neighbor if the shed conflicts with some
current plans (probably doesn't).
If not, ask about an easement. If the the neighbor is not willing to do
so, then let him know that payment is an option. Pull out a couple
hundred in $20s and lay them on table. Actual greenbacks carry more
power than a promise of money or even a check. Naturally, no money
really changes hands until signatures are on paper, but a handshake
deal at this point is feasible.
If this is just a typical home storage shed, I wouldn't waste my time
doing anything other than moving it and pouring a new pad. It's
simple, fast, cheap and the alternatives are all not worth the time
and money to explore. Even the simplest solution, which might be, as
someone suggested, to work out an agreement for the neighbor to allow
you to keep it there, is, in my opinion, not practical, because it
creates more issues. It will have to be addressed if if either or you
want to sell your properties. There are insurance issues as well.
From both parties perspectives, it's just not worth the trouble.
I would also check local ordinances that govern shed reqts,
particularly setback and get any necessary permits.
Thank you all for the responses. I thought there might be a law that
covered land use that had been ignored for a long time. Now I know the
name "adverse possession". I do not think the land has any value as a
building site (the stream and wet lands). Most of the neighbors land
is on the far side of te stream. This is in New York state so I will
look at adverse possession. Thanks again for the replies.
Wait a minute.
IMHO if your shed is encroaching on his land, he is perfectly within his
rights to demand you move it. He is right and you are wrong. "Adverse
possession" gives you a claim to the land also, and thus puts you in a
better position to bargain a more reasonable compromise. I think you
should either move the shed or buy (or lease) the land under it.
Filing an adverse possession claim is an extremely hostile act and would
be best avoided. Proceed with caution.
BTW, why is this suddenly an issue? Did the neighbor just discover the
encroachment? Did he just buy the land? Did you do something to piss
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