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How to deal with fence encroachment?


zmike's Avatar
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07-26-17, 04:41 PM   #1 (permalink)  
How to deal with fence encroachment?

Im thinking of putting fence between my property and a rented property next door.

This is going to sound petty. But the neighbors has a dilapidated fence and it appears to be placed directly on the property line.... in fact half of each post is on my side. Its also sagging towards my property in spots. According to my survey this is correct. I didn't think a fence is allowed directly on the line but I am thinking maybe that's a regional requirement or something.

I don't know the renter, the owner lives out of state and I don't feel obligated to inform him of anything.

What would be my best course of action to get my new fence up? Do I have the right to remove the fence straight away and begin constructing mine or do I just bring my post holes in a little bit and not risk confrontation?

 
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07-26-17, 05:00 PM   #2 (permalink)  
Check your local zoning, building and HOA codes to make sure you are able to install a fence. Then, easiest and cheapest is to erect your fence one foot on your side of the property line.

 
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07-26-17, 05:02 PM   #3 (permalink)  
Did you ever hear of "adverse possession"? A friend of mine & myself replaced a fence for a lawyer. He explained that if a fence was a few inches on your property, for a long time, the small piece of property could become theirs. What I would do & have seen done, is build your fence as close as you can to his fence.

 
zmike's Avatar
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07-26-17, 05:16 PM   #4 (permalink)  
probably a stupid question... what I want to do is knock down that portion of fence and put my fence in its place. I would be asking for trouble, correct?

And another question, perhaps better for another forum......

Does the renter of property have any say whatsoever in this matter?

 
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07-26-17, 06:25 PM   #5 (permalink)  
The renter has no say as long as he is truly a renter & not part owner. You don't have the right to remove his fence. I don't understand why you don't want to talk to the owner. He maybe happy to have you replace the fence.

 
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07-26-17, 07:04 PM   #6 (permalink)  
Due diligence involves taking all reasonable steps to resolve this before you take any action and one of those steps would be contacting the owner of that property. Replacing the fence in the same location would be an improvement for both properties and I don't see why he would object.

Are you on good terms with him/her or have there been other issues?

Bud

 
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07-27-17, 07:17 AM   #7 (permalink)  
I agree, contact all parties involved including both the tenant and owner. I doubt you have a problem.

PD suggestion of putting the fence 1 foot into your property is good (as I did) BUT...you should make it a habit of informing (as a matter of legal formality) the neighbor on a yearly basis and in writing of the fact that the fence is in fact within the property line and not on the property line. This procedure will enforce or mitigate the "adverse possession" effect Shortylong speaks about.

You can make the yearly notice in a form letter stating something like..."as a matter of formality this letter is to inform and maintain the integrity of our property lines between our properties for any future use".

This was clearly a near disaster for me and my neighbor. She had a contractor put in a driveway apron adjacent to my property line. The contractor laid his forms using the fence as the property line. He was ready to pour concrete and I caught him just in time to alert him to the fact that he was 12" over the property line. Had the driveway been poured, most likely the 12" of property would've reverted to her ownership.

If and when you or neighbor decide to sell the fact that the fence is on or not on the property line could cause confusion if a search and survey is conducted (as it should be when sale of property takes place).

 
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07-27-17, 07:40 AM   #8 (permalink)  
I would contact the owner of the property first. Probably not the most likely of scenarios with a lot of people, but, the way that I am built, given a dilapidated fence on a property I owned in a different state, I would be very open to someone replacing it, and would even offer to share in the cost. But, even if they don't offer to share the cost, it seems most likely that they would at least be receptive to you replacing it, in which case it becomes easy to replace it exactly where it stands now. Once that is resolved, I would consider it proper to talk with the renter and let them know what you are going to do.

 
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08-13-17, 07:36 AM   #9 (permalink)  
Approaching fence lines & Keeping the peace between neighbors

As an installer I have on a few rare occasions installed a fence on the property line as per specific request of the customer. Town ordinances in those cases have allowed the fence to be installed on the property line as long as the fence and all parts of the fence were installed on or inside the property line...
"ALL PARTS" meaning... if the fence was a chain link fence, aluminum or any kind of PVC fence, the fence posts would surely have concrete bases. The posts and their concrete base would have to be on the customers property.... If the customer had a typical chain link fence with a typical 2 inch diameter post, the concrete base for that post would be about 8 to 10 inches in diameter... And in this specific situation the concrete itself would have to be on the customers property... With this being the case the fence itself would likely be at least 3 inches or so inside the property line, with the other half of that concrete base extending past the post underground.... right up to the property line... Yes, this explanation is what I tell those customers who ask for every inch of their land to be fenced in. This is how I protect them in the future as well as protect myself from being taken to court and sued for breaching over the property lines of the neighbors..

Now, in your case.. It is very possible that the original homeowners were friends with the neighbors...the actual homeowners of the home next door.. And in that , they may have shared the cost of the fence. And in that they may have made an agreement with each other that each of them gets the full position of their fences and the fence was in fact divided up between them, 50/50.
This has happened in my 35 yrs of fencing... It does not happen often, but in all those years I do believe that I have had a small handful of people who have been that extreme in owning every inch and every penny of their own.

In your case.. If you choose to straighten the neighbors fence I would strongly suggest you speak to or write to your neighbors. Either start with speaking to the actual home owners or starting with speaking to the people who rent there... No matter what do not touch the fence first and assume that they would not mind. People are strange about things like that. It is best to ask first, saying that you are doing this at no cost to them and you simply want to make it look better for everyone involved.
If they for some reason tell you not to touch the fence.... ( which could be what happens ) at least you did the right thing... Because if you did not ask they most certainly would have been in their right to call the authorities.
If that is the case, all you need do at that point, and it is my strong suggestion.. Just install your new fence a foot or so inside your property line... but tightly up against the property line... Not breaching over the property line.

Point ... If the neighbors fence is an old rusty chain link fence and you are installing a new white PVC fence... I would not get too close to the old fence... doing so would surely get your fence all rusty and dirty looking on the outside....maybe allowing the muck to travel through the tongue and grove lines of the fence onto your side...

First piece of advice... Contact the home owners... the renters second.. and if none of that works,,,, sure you could go the legal route of getting the town officials involved, but it would be so much easier and you would have so more ease on the mind if you just put up your own fence, blocking out all the muck and months later you will forget it ever happened.

I have in many cases installed a fence 3, 4 and sometimes even as many as 6 feet inside property lines... Just so that neighbors do not have to speak to their neighbors to bring up the topic of their property lines... Its like they could live with one another no problem for 25 yrs... But as soon as someone speaks about the idea of approaching the property lines.. automatically it is kind of like someone is walking in your back door and sitting down for breakfast without being asked to come in.

Good luck.. I am sure as long as you are peaceful with your neighbors it would all work out just fine...

Greg's Fence NJ

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08-13-17, 10:50 AM   #10 (permalink)  
You might want to contact a real estate lawyer to get the legal facts for your state. Ask about the adverse possession laws for your state. I had a potential adverse possession situation in MA. Instead of having to remember to take a dated picture of me on the property periodically to prove that it wasn't abandoned my lawyer wrote up some legal documents that were sent to my encroaching neighbors and filed with the registry of deeds. These documents gave the encroachers permission to have their fences and shrubbery on my property but also ensured that they could never own the property by adverse possession.
One problem with putting your fence right on the property line that could happen is if you ever had to do maintenance (painting or repair) to the side of the fence facing the neighbor.....neighbor may prevent access. My uncle had a situation where his property line was right beside his neighbor's driveway. My uncle's house was 3 or 4 feet from the property line. My uncle needed to put up a ladder to paint his 2 story house. The ladder would have had to have stood in the neighbor's driveway. Neighbor said my uncle would have to pay $ in order to do this.

 
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08-14-17, 05:05 AM   #11 (permalink)  
My uncle needed to put up a ladder to paint his 2 story house. The ladder would have had to have stood in the neighbor's driveway. Neighbor said my uncle would have to pay $ in order to do this.
My father-in-law had this problem. He called the police and they stayed on premises while he painted the house, much to the ranting of the old hag of a neighbor.

 
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08-14-17, 05:11 AM   #12 (permalink)  
I painted a house under construction once that was owned by someone the neighborhood apparently detested. Since there was no water, I went next door and 'stole' 1.5 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket to soak my tools as I got done with them. The homeowner came out and questioned me, then called the law. When the cop got there he pretty much just shook his head and advised me not to 'steal' anymore water. The neighbor across the street called the builder and accused me of parking my van on their yard [no curb] He came out and looked, sure enough about 1" of my tire tread was on the grass


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JIMMIEM's Avatar
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08-14-17, 07:02 AM   #13 (permalink)  
My father-in-law had this problem. He called the police and they stayed on premises while he painted the house, much to the ranting of the old hag of a neighbor

I'm surprised that the police would do this as opposed to telling your father-in-law to work it out with the neighbor. Having a lousy neighbor is the pits!!!!

 
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08-24-17, 02:25 PM   #14 (permalink)  
The first thing you want to do is contact your neighbor. No way to know how cooperative he will be unless you ask.

You have no right to touch his fence. If you talk to the town, they might be able to compel him to remove it if they don't allow fences on the lot line. However they will probably tell you that after all these years it is fine.

Around here a fence must be 2' on your property. Right now I have a nice garden on 2' of my neighbor's property that is on my side of his fence. He can't do anything with it, so he lets me use it.

Adverse possession is very complicated. It is unlikely to be used in a circumstance like this; so forget about it. (Conceivably I could claim the land my garden is on, but I would rather have him pay the taxes.)

Just as a point of reference, I got permission in writing to attach my new fence to my neighbors. On the basis of that, the town gave me a permit to do it. Check with the town to see what can be done in your circumstances. I don't know but if both neighbors agree, they might allow a fence on the lot line. (I don't know why my neighbor didn't go that way; maybe he didn't get along with his neighbor back then.

 
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08-25-17, 06:05 AM   #15 (permalink)  
I don't know the renter, the owner lives out of state and I don't feel obligated to inform him of anything.

What would be my best course of action to get my new fence up? Do I have the right to remove the fence straight away and begin constructing mine or do I just bring my post holes in a little bit and not risk confrontation?
Contacting the owner to discuss the matter in a nice way seems to be an obvious first step. The point is really that an appropriate fence would be best for all and that's probably the point to make. Overall though, I wouldn't touch the fence without agreement and I don't see a need. If your fence blocks out his, what do you care as to whether his stays up or not.

 
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