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Question - neighbors and property lines?

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  • Question - neighbors and property lines?

    Greetings! Long time lurker, first time poster (I'm nervous so apologies if I ramble!)

    A little background - DH and I are in the process of buying our first home, a farmette. Getting this house has been a huge ordeal (think foreclosure with tax lien along with incompetent real estate agents) and we are finally going to be closing within the next 2 weeks! Once we get the place, our focus is going to be on the interior of the house. We don't have horses for the time being so we want to take our time with new fencing, barn maintenance, etc.

    Now the possible issue: Within the past several weeks, the house next door has sold and the woman who bought it has brought her 2 horses with her. She seems great but we have not introduced ourselves yet. This is not a problem, but we want to get a land surveyor out there to access property lines since both hers and ours share a fence. According to our county's online maps, part of one of her buildings is in our property. I know these are not always 100% accurate, but what if it is? What is the best way for me to address this? I would like to have a good relationship with my neighbor and don't want to burn any bridges by being insensitive. But - I want my horses to screw up my own fencing, not hers! Thanks for any input and good advice you can give me!

  • #2
    How much acreage are we talking that might be on her side of the fence? That would make my decision for me probably. If it's really not much at all I wouldn't worry about it if it's an acre then I might would have to say something about it.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • #3
      See what the surveyor says, and then worry about it. Not worth worrying about all the possibilities until you know exactly where the line is.


      • #4
        How much of the out building is potentially on your property? I would make the surveyor a priority and I would let the new neighbor know in advance that you are having one come out. I would think she would want to know just what is hers and what is yours also.
        My blog: Crackerdog Farm


        • #5
          There is the factor of who erected the fence. If the neighbors built the fence on your property that can be an issue as well. Its usually fairly easy to determine who built the fence. That may help in determining the best way to approach your new neighbors. best of luck.


          • #6
            You might find that selling a little bit of land to her would be the best choice of options. That would be any of your land erroneously fenced in with her land. This you can discover after a survey.

            You might introduce yourself to her and split the cost of a survey. If she just bought her place, maybe she had one done already. A positive relationship with your neighbor is a very valuable thing.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the replies! Just for some clarification - there is not a lot of property that is potentially hers (less than 1/2 acre). I'm not really overly concerned about that, either. Since she didn't build the shed, I don't expect her to move it. I was just curious if anyone else has experienced a similar situation.
              My biggest concern is the shared fence line. Does anyone have any experience with this? As in, sharing the cost, maintenance, issues, etc. Even if I did own horses, I would never bring them over without fixing the fence since it is not in good condition. Since it seems like it doesn't bother her, I guess that is what I'm most concerned about dealing with. I want to have a great relationship with my neighbor but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with sharing a fence line with her.


              • #8
                KY has fence law that says what part of a shared fenceline I must pay for, but in my experience shared fencelines can be a real problem. We left our shared fenceline alone and put up electric fence 12 foot inside our property line - making little paddocks and trying to keep it obvious that the shared fence was the line.
                Your state may be fence-in or fence-out so all the burden of the fences may fall on you or not, you'll need to research that, and your neighbor may be ignorant or innocent of the need for better than barb wire.

                I've seen some stories on here and have personal knowledge of a neighbor that let his stud colt, young of course, run a shared fenceline with mares, down went the fence, the colt got cut up, the owner had to make it right with the MO's, and it was an easy decision to just move my fencelines in and nip any idiocy in the bud. Of course I don't like losing pasture area but for day use I can put the guys out into the tractorways to graze.

                We still do rough maintenance of the neighbor's barbed wire on our line so as to ensure that their horses stay on their side. We repair broken wires and rehang and retighten as needed to keep a nice taut fence.
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • #9
                  Congrats on your first place! Here's a few things you can do on your own before you hire a surveyor.

                  First, go to the courthouse to see if a plat was recorded. If it was, it will show the correct property lines, and the locations of the house and outbuildings that existed at the time of the survey. Sometimes plats were recorded alongside the deed. If not, the deed would still have the meets and bounds. These records are all open to the public.

                  If you can get the prior surveyor's name from the bank paperwork, you can call them to see if you can get a copy of the prior survey.

                  Your property should have corner markers (pins, iron stakes) for all the corners. See if you can locate the streetside one, then take a 100' long tape measure and start measuring according to your plat or deed to find the other corners.

                  My experience is the online county "parcel maps" are pretty accurate. But get as many descriptive documents of the property as you can and/or hire a survey before you approach the neighbor.

                  Hopefully, it won't be an issue...or simply result in a nice new fence for your horses which is the best way to deal with a poorly placed old fence. (I agree with those who say not to have a shared fence. Shared = nothing but trouble.) Don't sell any of your land. Easier to just erect a new fence.
                  Last edited by gothedistance; Oct. 13, 2012, 09:05 PM.


                  • #10
                    Hi Blackbird, I have dealt with these issues but I am in California. You should be able to process a lot line adjustment with your neighbor. The surveyor can help provide a cost estimate for this, these things happen all the time.

                    PM me if you would like, but get through escrow first and pay attention to your title report, maybe have the surveyor review it. Good luck and congratulations on your property.


                    • #11
                      I think prior to purchasing the property you need to know where the property lines are.

                      If your neighbor is using your property, well, that needs to be addressed. There are so many legal issues with that, such as prescriptive easements.

                      As far as a shared fence...no way. Thats why there are setbacks...it might be a municipality law but if not, I would set back the fence at least a bit to mow the other side and to maintain it. If she starts using the fence for her horses, please remind her(legally) that her horses are on your property.
                      again, if you allow it, you may end up giving her the property thru prescriptive easement.
                      Dont ask me why I know this!
                      save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                      • #12
                        Setbacks are not typically for fences. Setback are for buildings. We share a fence with three neighbors.

                        Work with your surveyor and title company.


                        • #13
                          There may be an automatic easement if things have been that way for a long time...that was the case at the barn we board at. Part of two turnouts are actually on the adjoining property because the property lines do not follow the tree lines. But since it's been that way "nearly forever", the new land-owner next door couldn't reclaim the use of that land from the farm nor get anything for the easement. Approximately one acre is involved here.

                          The suggestion to get plot plans and other information from the courthouse is a good idea as a place to start and yes, it would be a courtesy to let the new homeowner know that you will be having the property lines surveyed.


                          • #14
                            Are you mortgaging the property through a bank? Check with them first to see if they are already arranging for a site survey. Most mortgage companies do want some level of survey for their documentation - a site survey is just to determine the corners and record the presence of markers, and measure the positions of buildings from the lot lines. It isn't a full survey (which involves placing pins if necessary) so it doesn't cost as much, but it may suffice in your situation.

                            Also, check the deed (or plat) for any recorded easements, encroachments, right-of-ways. You want to make sure your property is going to be free of any encumberances that might affect your use/enjoyment of your land.

                            Good luck!


                            • #15
                              I'd agree with checking on easements etc.. Utility, gas lines, roads, anything you can think of. A buddy of mine was putting in a new home on his 10 acres and discovered during the process that there was an existing gas line serving the neighbors. Recorded easement or not, getting it moved to put in his home was the expense that broke his budget. Our neighbors had a power line where we didn't like it, no recorded easement, and it worked out best for us to just spend the grand and a half to shift it to a better spot on our place. We could have gone to law with it but we had to weigh neighbor relations and creating a PITA reputation with the utility company, it just wasn't what we wanted to do.

                              One of the things I swore I wouldn't deal with again was a private road easement going through my place. There can just be a lot of headache involved with people "in your space". Not always, but be aware.
                              Last edited by ReSomething; Oct. 13, 2012, 10:49 PM. Reason: wrong thread!
                              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                              Incredible Invisible


                              • #16
                                I have a shared fence line. Some of it is in good shape and some not. My neighbors and I have an unspoken agreement to let the brush grow around the fence so we both have privacy. We are putting up a secondary fence line about 5 feet in of polybraid electric for visibility.
                                My blog: Crackerdog Farm


                                • #17
                                  As others have said, joint fences can be a big pain, and you do need a proper survey before settlement and closing. Fence laws depend on the state, so check with your real estate attorney about that.

                                  Where I live joint fences are maintained by both neighbors, and if a fence is put up on a joint property line then the homeowners must split the cost. And both homeowners have to pay even if they didn't want the fence, or don't want the type that is put up.

                                  I wouldn't go to closing with a conflict in ownership, or with the possibility that the encroaching fence or building is on my side, because having someone with legal claim to part of your propety could really louse up future sales, maintenance, and ownership rights.
                                  You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                                  • #18
                                    Before going to closing, make sure you have (at a minimum) a title insurance policy that the protects the property for the duration of the mortgage. The best option is to get an owner's title insurance policy, as it protects YOUR rights (not just the banks investment) to the land that is described in the deed.

                                    Several years after my father passed away, my brother and I decided neither of us was ever going to live on the farm so we may as well sell it. We had a survey done to figure out the true acreage as my Grandfather had purchased the land in the 1920's and then deeded it to my father in the 1980's. The land was surrounded by other large tracts that were owned by other family members, a great uncle (who had passed and a cousin had inherited) and a cousin who had bought a tract in the area because of other family members owning adjoining tracts. I knew that there had been some question of land boundaries between my father and his uncle due to the state road that bisects the land being re-routed by 20-50 ft over about a 300 yard section of road. This was what I thought the survey would help clarify..... Well the tractor shed my father had built was actually a few feet on my cousin's land. We were able to come up with a way to shift the boundary a few feet (to have the shed be on our land) and then shift it in another area to allow them to have access to their land from the state road without having to have an easement across our land. This turned out to be a win/win for each of us. The county was VERY happy to have the new property lines that cleaned up the problems (encroachment and no longer needing a deeded easement). Luckily both land tracts were 200+ acres, so there was wiggle room to redraw the lines. It might be harder with a farmette.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by gothedistance View Post
                                      Are you mortgaging the property through a bank? Check with them first to see if they are already arranging for a site survey. Most mortgage companies do want some level of survey for their documentation - a site survey is just to determine the corners and record the presence of markers, and measure the positions of buildings from the lot lines. It isn't a full survey (which involves placing pins if necessary) so it doesn't cost as much, but it may suffice in your situation.

                                      Also, check the deed (or plat) for any recorded easements, encroachments, right-of-ways. You want to make sure your property is going to be free of any encumberances that might affect your use/enjoyment of your land.

                                      Good luck!
                                      This^^^. Most mortgage/title companies require surveys. In your real estate contract there is usually a paragraph stating who pays for the survey, how long they have to get it and the number of days you have to dispute it/terminate your contract without penalty for survey issues. You need to get it resolved now, with the current neighboring farm owner and the seller of your property.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thank you so very much for the replies, comments, and advice! I am going to e-mail both our lender and real estate agent tomorrow about this and get it resolved asap.