July 19, 2007
DEAR BOB: I own a commercial property with residential lots in the rear. There is a fence along the rear of my property, about 7 feet within my side of the property line. There is a paved parking lot on my side of my fence. One of the residential houses in back of my lot was recently sold, remodeled and flipped. The flipper landscaped his backyard up to my fence, making it look as though my property is part of his yard. The buyers are using my fence as their backyard boundary. I'm not sure if the buyers of that house understand they don't own the 7-foot strip of my lot on their side of my fence. What should I do? --
: If I understand the situation correctly, the fence is 7 feet on your side of the lot boundary. To protect your interest in that 7-foot strip of your lot -- which the previous adjoining owner landscaped -- you or your attorney should send the new owner a polite letter informing him of the true boundary location, which is 7 feet from the fence.
Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.
With limited exceptions, fences are not automatically lot boundaries (although they often are built on boundary lines).
If the neighbor continues using your 7-foot strip of land without your permission, it may be possible for him to acquire a permanent prescriptive easement to use that land strip forever. One way to prevent this is to grant permissive use.
The reason is acquiring a prescriptive easement requires open, notorious, hostile (without permission) and continuous use for the number of years required by state law.
Another alternative would be for you to erect a new fence along the true boundary, which, if I understand you correctly, would be 7 feet within the neighbor's landscaped area. For full details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
Published by Bob Bruss/Inman News