How is he going to put any new fence on his property line when that
would put the fence 6" into the neighbor's sidewalk? I'm amazed that
people would put up with this crap from inconsiderate AH neighbors. I
would not put up with it.
First, you need to get at least a first order understanding of exactly
where the property line is. If there are existing metal stakes or
monuments, that would be OK to start. If not, then you need a survey,
which you will anyway if you're going fully purue this.
If the sidewalk is on your side, then I would next check with local
code officials and see what code says about how close to property lines
sidewalks can be placed, if permits are needed and if so, was a permit
obtained. I'd also do this for your own fence to make sure you are in
compliance as this is surely to come up as you pursue it. If there
is an obvious code violation, then I'd start with that angle, as you
may be able to get the municipality to take action.
I would not just let this go, as some have suggested, for several
reasons. Laws vary by state in situations like this and no one here
can tell you the exact laws in your state. If you let this go, you
could wind up with the neighbor having either an easement or possibly
even actual claim to the land under the sidewalk. And what if you want
to sell your home one day? With current disclosure laws, in most
places, you would be required to disclose that you know about this
encroachement. And if you play dumb, what if the seller finds it out
before closing and then demands that you fix it? It could tie up your
selling your home for months or more. Or finds it later and takes you
to small claims court?
Right now, if the neighbor is trying to sell his property, you are in a
much better position. He has every incentive to quickly rectify this,
otherwise, he's got a problem that could block his sale. Plus, if
he's moving, even if you piss him off, he will be gone.
Why didn't you notice this and do something about it when the forms
were going up? That certainly doesn;'t make it your problem though.
Anyone doing any work like this close to a property line should have
been the party getting a surveyor out to establish the correct line.
On 2 Nov 2006 06:29:19 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
My neighbor has built his driveway over a wedge of my property 18
inches at the base and 40 feet long. He built his house before mine
and that was the only way he could build his driveway to let his car
through to the backyard garage. There is no other access. I don't
have a problem with that as I have lots of land on my corner lot.
Where I had intended to build my garage had curbside access. But in
maximizing my garage lot and driveway I had to shift the layout such
that the driveway was built over the municipal water shutoff valve to
my house. No problem there with me either as I just had to put in an
access hole where the valve was.
Its 25 years now and there has not been any problem from the City or
through five changes of neighbors fo whom three were owner-buyers.
That is a survey must have been done more than once and I wasn't in
the picture. I don't want to open a can of worms as the saying goes.
But should my son sell the house when I am gone will my son's and my
good neighbor policy leave him with a problem from a buyer? Of
course there will be full disclosure during negotiations. I'd just
like to know what issues will be brought up beforehand without lawyers
getting in the way of an amicable agreement.
Did you know about it at the time? If you were OK with it, then you
should have consuted an attorney and given the neighbor an easement.
Actually, the neighbor is dumb or very inconsiderate to do this without
getting an easement.
If you want to rectify it, consult an attorney. You very likely can
just grant him an easement which makes the whole thing legal and avoids
any questions with a future sale. If it were me, I would expect the
neighbor to pay for any costs incurred, legal, survey etc. That is
why the time to do this is BEFORE he's gone ahead and done it. After
letting it go for years, who knows what the reaction will be or if he's
willing to pay the costs.
Most lawyers offer a free consultation, so that would be an easy first
I suspect that if you do end up bringing a legal action you will learn
what the term "de minimus" means. The court might very likely say that
six inches on the "other side" of your fence isn't significant enough to
be considered damaging to you, compared to what it would take for the
neighbor to remove that strip of concrete.
I agree with Jeffry. I would not suggest bringing legal action, but I
do believe it would be a good idea to find out what the local legal issues
are. It might prove helpful and there may be a clock running limiting the
time to get things straight and simple with out any legal action.
I doubt any court would find that pouring a concrete sidewalk 6" onto
someone elses property is acceptable. Why? Because besides it's
obvious the neighbor is clearly in the wrong, for a court to just let
this go sends a message to everyone else that's it's ok and acceptable,
which just encourages it. And I'm amazed that there are people who
would put up with this crap and let others walk all over them and just
look the other way. People who pull this crap aren't just doing it
by mistake. You'd have to be a complete moron to pour a sidewalk
without knowing for sure, via a survey, where the line is.
Anybody puts a sidewalk on my property, it's gonna be outta there PDQ.
Many people make assumptions. You see a fence, so the assumption is that it
is on the property line. Later you want a sidewalk, so you frame it out to
the assumed property line. Dumb or not, it happens every day. I wonder how
many people think they own out to the curb at the street?
That assumes that said neighbor doesn't have a competing survey
that puts the line somewhere else. And that the neighbor isn't
just an idiot. And that the encroachment inconveniences someone
in any way. If you don't have enough real problems in your
life, then picking a fight with your neighbor over the
6" of weeds between your fence and the property line might
make sense. Personally, I've got better things to worry about.
See how you feel 20 years later, when you go to sell your house and the
buyer discovers the neighbors sidewalk is on the property and refuses
to close until you resolve it. Or when the title insurance company
balks at issuing a policy at closing, because the survey now shows the
neighbors sidewalk is on your property.
If you want advice on this, I suggest you post to
misc.legal.moderated which has a lot of attorneys
that hang out there and regularly give advice on
things like this...
At the very least, you should send your neighbor
a registered letter before he sells it, saying that
you have no objection to his using part of your
property for his fence but reserve the right to
have him remove it, pending a valid survey, in the
That should protect you in an adverse possession
claim, but, more important, will put your knowledge
of the encroachment on record......
That way you can tell the "new" owner that you
don't object, and that you sent a letter to to person who
sold it to him before the sale, , and the new owner will have the
old owner to bitch to......
But valid legal advice is not a bad idea at all...
Andy in Eureka
( not an attorney, nor related to one )
First, if you don't actually know where the property line is, you would
be foolish to argue over it, so the first step for you should be to
locate the actual boundary. I would question the poster who said that
the neighbor will have to have a survey, which will reveal any error.
Actual surveys of urban property are almost never done for sales, and
even if your neighbor did a survey, it would show incursions onto his
property, not yours. You could, of course, split the cost of a survey.
My feeling is it would be unfair of you to know of a problem, and do
nothing to resolve it, until after the property is sold and the current
owner is far gone. Any subsequent owner would be reluctant to deal with
you if you pulled a stunt like that, so I think that if there is a
problem, you should do something before the sale to resolve it. That
may be as simple as granting an easement, or leasing the encroached
property. Something you and your neighbor could do without going to
court. I would hire a reputable lawyer to document the resolution,
however. Before I bought this house, the owner realized the neighbor's
driveway encroached, so he and the neighbor agreed to an easement;
unfortunately, the half witted lawyer they went to confused thirteen
inches and thirty inches, so when a subsequent neighbor wanted to widen
his driveway, I had to go to court to convince them that there was an
error in the easement, and I shouldn't have to move my house.
Incidentally, around here a neighbor has to give you access to his
property if that is the only way you can work on yours, but if you get
on his wrong side, he may, inadvertently, of course, give you the access
at a time that is inconvenient for you.
Patches Forever wrote:
Since the fence is owned by both of you, the responsibility for/living with
its misplacement is pretty much shared. I find it hard to believe the whole
fence line would be 6" inside your property though.
If a survey proves you right, and you are still concerned about it - I would
suggest (at least where I'm from) you'd be the one ripping up the 6" of
concrete (and returning it to your neighbour of course) - shortly before
demarcating your lines better....
Don't bother with court - hire a surveyor, concrete saw & move that fence
(tell the neighbour first) - much cheaper!
In the wrong place according to whom? If I put up a fence, I would do
it exactly as the OP did, with it slightly inside my property line. I
don't care about a "communal impression." I want a fence that I own
and control. If you place it on the property line, in most cases
it's a jointly owned fence that the property owners on each side are
now jointly responsible for.
Oh, really? Do you pull your own teeth? Take out your appendix too?
Someone who has a neighbor that poured a sidewalk 6" on there
property and wants to know their options, needs a lawyer. Last time I
checked that's exactly who's trained to look for laws, interpret them
and figure out what course of action is available.
And what's your problem with someone who pays real estate taxes for
years calling up a code official to ask about the municipality's
regulations on where you can place a sidewalk, permits, etc? He's
paying the guy's salary, isn't he?
Yeah, that's a good idea, go to law school instead of getting a free
consultation with a lawyer or calling up the code official. You must
have an interesting time getting through life.
Since you obviously have little idea what you are talking about, I won't
bother arguing with you.
But basically, for anyone else reading this, if you put up a fence inside a
property line, then you should be at least partly liable for any problems
caused by this. The neighbour shouldn't have to employ a surveyor to
determine where you think your boundary might be. As I said, (where I'm
from) fences between properties are always jointly owned. Is what you're
suggesting that each neighbour erect their own fence?
"Controlling" a fence...... Now I need to hit that plonker button - where
Depends on where you are from. If you live in some housing development where
everyone wants a fence, that makes sense. My neighbor two doors away has
one and he paid for all of it. If my next door or rear neighbors want a
fence, that is their prerogative and I'm not paying a penny because I don't
want or need a fence. So far they have not either.
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