Adverse Possession: When a Fence Becomes Your New Property Line

October 23, 2017 2:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Every person has the right to defend his or her property. That’s why we build fences, put up signs and invest in security systems. Yet, in some cases, your property can be taken away right out from under you without you even realizing it’s happening.

A shed, a fence or even a driveway can cost you part of your property if you’re not careful. While no one can simply stake a claim to your land by driving a fence post into it, over time a fence post can be the reason someone else gets to claim part of your land. This occurs through a real estate concept called adverse possession.

What is adverse possession?

To help you better understand the idea of adverse possession, let’s take a look at an example. John shares a property line with his neighbor, Mary. One summer, John decides to put up a fence along the property line; however, he mistakenly puts the fence about one foot over onto Mary’s property. Twelve years later, Mary decides to sell her home and contacts a land surveyor in Mobile, AL to survey her property. The surveyor discovers that John’s fence is actually a foot over onto Mary’s property. Before the sale of her home, Mary asks John to move his fence, but he refuses to do so. The two end up in court and, even though all the documents and the surveyor’s report prove that the land is Mary’s, the property is now awarded to John.

How could this happen to Mary when the land is rightfully hers? The answer is adverse possession. Both Mary and John accepted the fence as the “boundary” between their two properties for a period of over 10 years. Now, even though John technically encroached on Mary’s property by building his fence, the land is awarded to John since both parties accepted the fence as the boundary until Mary discovered a little too late that this was not the case.

How can I prevent adverse possession?

Step 1: Know your boundaries. Adverse possession usually occurs due to an honest mistake about where the actual property line is located. Before you put up a fence, or allow a neighbor to do so, have a land surveyor in Mobile, AL check the actual property lines for you.

Step 2: Speak up. If you find that a neighbor has encroached onto your property in some way, say something. More often than not, people are willing to move a structure if they find out it is encroaching on your property.

Step 3: Don’t wait. If a neighbor is trespassing onto your property and isn’t cooperating with you when you ask them to move, don’t wait to do something about it. Waiting too long will cost you in court.

If you find yourself in a possible situation of adverse possession, our team at Polysurveying can help. We will accurately survey your property to ensure that you know where your property lines are located before it’s too late. To schedule services, contact us today!

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