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Posted: 4/29/2009 9:14:31 AM EDT
I've lived in my house for almost 9 years now.  When we moved in, we considered getting a fence around the back yard so that the kids could run free.  Our oldest son has autism and likes to wander, so a fence would allow him to run around, but not run away.  We got some estimates, but in the end could not afford it.  All of our money had gone to the house, closing costs, down payment, etc...

At one point our neighbors directly to the north fenced in their back yard.  I don't remember exactly when this was.  They have since moved and a new couple moved in.

Flash forward to April of this year.  We adopted a dog from the local shelter and decided to fence in the back yard.  We're in a better place financially then we were back then.  I talked to the woman that lives next door and told her we were looking at getting a fence and she said that we could hook into hers.  She said it would make no sense to have a gap between two fences.  I had a couple of people come to give estimates and they both asked for the exact boundaries of the property.   My wife got a report from a website that shows an aerial view of the property with the property lines superimposed.  The neighbor's fence is clearly on our side of the property line.  The other side of their fence is clearly inside their own property line.  According to the printout, their back property line is 37' 6".  I dug out the paperwork from when we bought our house and found a picture of the property lines.  It matches the printout.  I measured their fence at the rear of the property and found the fence to be 40' 6", so it's at least 3 feet inside of our property line, but more like 6 feet when you take into account that it is a few feet inside the line on the other side.

I always believed that the property lines ran perpendicular to the street and parallel to the sides of the house.  Our neighbors on both sides probably thought the same, based on lawn mowing, landscaping, etc...  Below is a crude MS Paint of the property:



I figure the first step is to get some sort of a survey to make sure where the lines are.  The picture on the website that my wife downloaded has a "not legal" disclaimer on it.

Also, I assume a trip to a lawyer's office would be in order.  I'm afraid I'm going to use my entire fence budget to pay for lawyers, surveys, etc... and not have anything left for the fence.

Last, but not least, I don't want to piss off the neighbors unnecessarily.  They did not build the fence, the precious owners did.

Has anyone else had a situation like this come up for them?  I tried Google to look for answers and didn't come up with anything useful.

I've hunted all over for markers so that I can find the property boundary myself, but I only had luck finding 1.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 9:25:31 AM EDT
  Sounds like your neighbor is a reasonable person. Have you talked to them since you have found out about the property lines?



The easiest thing would be for the two of you to split the cost to either replace or reorient the portion of the fence along the property line.

 
 
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 9:48:05 AM EDT
Burn their house down, then when they move away move the fence.  

Problem solved.

You're welcome.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 9:55:15 AM EDT
One should have the property boundaries identified by surveying before building anything especially a fence. Your former neighbor is an excellent reason why. I recommend that you have your property surveyed. If part your neighbor's fence is indeed on your property, I would grant permission in writing allowing the fence to remain but have the right to revoke permission at any time. If you do not grant permission, your neighbor can take your property from you. You will need an attorney for this. Then build your fence on your property.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 10:04:22 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Brother_Kane:
One should have the property boundaries identified by surveying before building anything especially a fence. Your former neighbor is an excellent reason why. I recommend that you have your property surveyed. If part your neighbor's fence is indeed on your property, I would grant permission in writing allowing the fence to remain but have the right to revoke permission at any time. If you do not grant permission, your neighbor can take your property from you. You will need an attorney for this. Then build your fence on your property.


I like this idea - give them written permission to have it there, but maintain the rights to the property.

I just went to the MidMoGIS website.  They have a tool on the map that lets you measure between points.  The fence is actually 8 feet inside of the property line.

I wonder how much this will cost between legal fees and the survey.  Anyone know how much a survey for a fence runs?  Can anyone recommend someone in Jeff City?

Thanks!
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 10:43:45 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Joker23:
Originally Posted By Brother_Kane:
One should have the property boundaries identified by surveying before building anything especially a fence. Your former neighbor is an excellent reason why. I recommend that you have your property surveyed. If part your neighbor's fence is indeed on your property, I would grant permission in writing allowing the fence to remain but have the right to revoke permission at any time. If you do not grant permission, your neighbor can take your property from you. You will need an attorney for this. Then build your fence on your property.


I like this idea - give them written permission to have it there, but maintain the rights to the property.

I just went to the MidMoGIS website.  They have a tool on the map that lets you measure between points.  The fence is actually 8 feet inside of the property line.

I wonder how much this will cost between legal fees and the survey.  Anyone know how much a survey for a fence runs?  Can anyone recommend someone in Jeff City?

Thanks!


Make sure it’s a stake survey, and document it as well as you can, most fencing companies will require this before they go digging posts.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 11:32:52 AM EDT
My fence budget was about $2000.  We got a written estimate for $1900 last night.  I just called a local surveyor who shot me a guestimate of $700 to $900 for a survey.

The good news is, however, that he said in my neighborhood it is very common to find all four markers in place.  A co-worker has a metal detector and I'm gonna see what I can find...
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:00:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/29/2009 12:01:53 PM EDT by -Duke-Nukem-]
Go to your county recorder's office and ask to look at the plat books for your neighborhood.  They will have the original surveys conducted when the land was first subdivided, and they are a public record so anyone can have access to them.

Also at the recorder's office, get a copy of the legal description of your property.  If its something generic like "Lot 13 of the Sunny Grove Subdivision" then you have to refer to the plat book record.  If you're lucky though, you'll get what I like to call a "real" legal description, which describes your property in a way that you can literally follow with your feet, assuming you can find any of the markers (and since you've already found one, you can use the legal description to find the others).

You should be able to acquire authenticated copies of the legal description and the documents from the plat book for a nominal fee.  These copies can be used in a court of law if necessary.

By the way, if you want confirmation that any of this work you're doing actually matters, just do some googley mojo on "adverse posession" and read the horror stories.  :)  Good luck.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:29:42 PM EDT
Adverse possession is your biggest fear here.

You need to ensure you have attacked one of the legs of adverse possession to secure your legal right to the property.

One simple means is to send a thank you card for them mowing your lawn certified mail and retaining a photo of the letter/card and the thank you portion of the writing or all writing. By doing so you attack the hostile occupation requirement of adverse possession by giving them permission to use the property. This just acts to protect your right to the property. After that you're better off working out a survey and new fence line with your neighbor.

I'd personally offer to pay for a stake survey and go from there after granting them permission in writing.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:30:55 PM EDT
You can't just build your own fence?  I find new shocking things about our country everyday.  For example the other day i learned even if you buy a piece of land you have to pay property tax every year? what horsesh*t, can't even build your own fence on your own property without jumping through hoops.

Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:37:47 PM EDT
My parents found themselves in a similar situation where part of the land on the neighbor's side of a fence was theirs and part of the land on their side was his. Dad and the neighbor sat down, decided to trade, drew something up (i'm pretty sure without lawyers) and traded land so the fence was on the line. Of course today it probably would be a lot more complicated.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:47:42 PM EDT
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:50:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/29/2009 12:53:53 PM EDT by gugubica]
A couple of things. First, the GIS maps are rediculously in-accurate. Second, the Recorders office is good advice, they will have some documents available for a nominal cost (everyone should have these anyway)

If yuo live in a Platted Subdivision, that is a Subdivision that has been surveyed and recorded, your legal description will indeed be "Lot whatever of such and such Subdivision." That is fine if you have a copy of the Subdivision. You can find your lot and see the dimentions. If not, your legal description will be what is called a "Metes and Bounds" description. These actually can be slightly more confusing because the will give the distance of your lines in order, but they will also give direction of the lines. The directions will 99.9% of the time be in bearing format i.e. North 47 Degrees 32 Minutes 17 Seconds East.

If that was hard to follow, you are not alone, Land Surveyors or about the only people on Earth that use the system of angular measuremnet.

Now, as for what you need to do:

You need to hire the surveyor, shop around a little as these are tough times for surveyors and one may want the work worse than another.

You need what is called a "Property Boundary Survey with Encroachments shown."

Oh, and Adverse Possesion is a real possability, BUT most people do not understand it. There are certain conditons that have to be met, the most important are that the dispute must be open and notorious for a period of at least seven years. In other words, you have to know about the encroachment and object to it. I would not worry about that yet.

The best advice I can give you is to aquire as many documents as you can. Go to your neighbor and show them what you have found out. See if they are willing to split the cost of the survey and/or lawer. You may have to wind up doing what is refered to as a "Lot Line Adjustment Survey" in which you "swap" an equal and equitable amount of ground to match the fenceline.

I have found that cooler heads always prevail in these situations and if you are cool about it, your neighbor likely will be too. You have a good shot at clearing this up to the benifit of both of you.

Now, for the disclaimer:
I am not a lawer, for specific leagal avise, you should contact one. I am a Land Surveyor and have been for close to 15 years. Your situation is VERY common and should be an easy fix. I do not work in the Jeff City area, so I am not familiar with the peculiarities, but everything should be pretty similar. If you have any specific questions, post em. I will be happy to do my best to get you an answer.

Oh, and one more thing for the benefit of anyone reading this:

Get an F'n survey when you buy a house! The cost of a survey is miniscule compared to the total cost of a real estate purchase and chould save you a lot of money down the road.

eta: damn I type slow.  BTW, Duke is a lawer and Username Taken is correct. The Thank You is proof that it is open, but not notorious.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:00:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/29/2009 1:02:31 PM EDT by UsernameTaken]
Adverse Possession in Missouri

Continuous & uninterrupted occupation for 10 years (Missouri allows tacking, therefore the new person claiming possession can tack their time to the previous claimants time.)
Actual possession
Notorious (a part of open below)
Open (generally visible occupation and easily or widely known)
Exclusive  (only you, not shared)
-
Hostile  (without permission)

This test is conjunctive meaning all aspects have to be present for adverse possession to occur or be granted. This means that attacking any one of the prongs protects you from adverse possession. The easiest prong to attack is the hostile requirement. All you have to do is grant permission and they are no longer in hostile possession. From there you can go to court and ask for ejectment.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:05:26 PM EDT
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:09:21 PM EDT
It's a real concern that is easily solved by talking to your neighbor. Even if cooperation doesn't occur it is still easily solved from a right to possess stand point. The actual process is just as big a headache as any civil litigation. The best thing to do is buy six pack of beer and work it out with your neighbor, get the land surveyed, then buy two cases and build your neighbor and you a new fence. More flies with honey than vinegar

Don't pass out the beer until the fence is done. FYI.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:15:45 PM EDT
I have had simmilar problems except my neighbor was trying to take my yard from me. The biggest thing I learned from my experience is to get a survey but make sure you get the county surveyor to do it cause he has final word if there is a dispute.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:22:00 PM EDT
Originally Posted By awall:
I have had simmilar problems except my neighbor was trying to take my yard from me. The biggest thing I learned from my experience is to get a survey but make sure you get the county surveyor to do it cause he has final word if there is a dispute.


Actually, you have to be a certain class of county to even have a County Surveyor. Even at that, he does not have the final say. Any licenced survayors signed survey is admissable in court. And there is no final say in a dispute but that of the judge.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 1:48:17 PM EDT
Thanks for all the help everyone!

Hopefully I won't have to put off the fence too long because of this.  The new dog is great, and I don't mind walking her, but it would be so much nicer to be able to let her run around the yard now and again.

I might have to set up a run or something for now...
Link Posted: 4/30/2009 8:47:44 AM EDT
My wife was at the courthouse today and ran by the recorder's office.  The legal description is the lot number.

The woman at the recorder's office recommended a survey.

A friend of my wife's at the PD recommended a survey.

I think I'm going to get a survey...



My coworker brought his metal detector this morning.  If it's not raining tonight, I'll look for the markers.
Link Posted: 4/30/2009 10:19:21 AM EDT
I am not sure how they do the markers out that way but around this area the markers near the street are actually saw cuts in the street curb itself that are painted over usually in orange spraypaint.  The paint usually wears off in time but the saw cuts remain.  Sometimes the grass near the street grows over so you might have to look there as well.  I am NOT a surveyor.  I am a concrete finisher and these marks are the ones we go by when setting driveways that are close to property lines.  There could be other markers that are placed after we are done before closing....so you might want to check that before using any markers as noted above as the ones we use might not be official.
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 8:17:47 AM EDT
The metal detector helped a lot.

I was able to find the marker at the back corner of the yard by the neighbor's fence.

Turns out GIS is off by quite a bit.  I had panned around our neighborhood on the website and found some of our neighbors houses had property lines running through them.  Best guestimate is that the lines on GIS are all off by 8 or 9 feet for my neighborhood.

Their fence is inside their property by about a foot.  I now have markers at the northeast and southwest corners of my property located.  I could not find the other two.

Thanks for everyone's advice!
Link Posted: 5/1/2009 11:23:13 AM EDT
Their fence is inside their property by about a foot. I now have markers at the northeast and southwest corners of my property located. I could not find the other two.

Good outcome.  That's alot of expense and heartache averted.  Congratulations.
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