Anyone ever run into a property line dispute like this?

22 Replies

Would you look at that. There is a road going right through the backyard (or front yard?) of the house I'm interested in buying. Dotted outline property.

The realtor explained that it used to be a dirt road that the trash man would drive down and pick up. Everyone started using it as a driveway and would park on it so now it is paved and maintained by the town. 

So my question, is there anything I can do about it? What would you do about it?

@Bill Brandt that’s what I was planning to do on the opposite side of the road. I was kind of wondering how much red tape I’d run into if I just put a fence up and demoed the road. Obviously can’t just go and do that, but is it even worth trying to get that ball rolling. The road connects at both ends to another road.

I guess the question is what is the concern for your purpose? Are you looking to live there and want to put your garbage out back with the neighbors? are you looking to flip to people with no interest in having a back alley? We have tons of property up here that have a road going right through all lots. They all have a "loose" HOA that each person pays $75.00 a year for road maintenance. It includes plowing and the neighbor "Fred" to plow and fill in potholes".

I guess it depends on your plans.

@Aidan Mulligan

There is something to be said for "good neighbors". Being the guy to show up, close off all access from the back (which may have been going on for 20 years). throw up some fences, change the garbage routes and put in some renters, may be legally doable (or not). It also may turn into many hours and hassle. You may also find some renters who love the area, enjoy putting the trash in the back and waving to "Donna and Art" everytime they drive through. 

Finding an area you really like is often times is a whole lot easier than changing an area into what you want. 

Couple questions you need to find answers to:

1- How long has it been there? This could possibly be a factor if you did want to take the road out (assuming you can) but you'd need to get an attorney at that point.
2- This is considered an alley btw and is very common for it to be used in the manner you described. Nothing odd about this at all. Sucks its cuts the property in half though.
3-Check the title report and see if there are any road/alley easements. If so then your SoL. If not then you need to do more digging to find out when this happened and who agreed to it and if there was any written agreement. Even if no written agreement it seems everyone has agreed to it since it has been allowed and improved. Who payed for the improvements? City or private? 

4-If the town maintains it then it is most likely considered a street or alley and has been "given" to the town, which makes it "public" property, even though it could be a private alley. Title report will help with this. If not, call the town.

5- Can you even get access to this house/property from the other street? This is not always possible bc of code or other city laws. 
6- Do you want to be the d*** new neighbor that ruins everything for everyone else and will more than likely face several law suits to stop you if you where even allowed to in the first place.

So the fact that this house has an alley behind it, even on its property, is not alarming in anyway. Really its a plus. I wish I had vehicular access to my backyard...I can only get a wheelbarrel to my backyard. BUT the fact it cuts your backyard in half is a total PITA. That part of it is what I would hate and the reason I wouldnt buy it unless theres a steep discount. Why do I want to pay for land I can hardly use, cant fence and have to cross a street to get to?

perfect place for Toll Gate !!!

We had a buyer/borrower pick up a  'landlocked' 30x60 lot behind a property that had a rear lane access. Now the city has to plow to the new rear driveway so it was win & prevents neighbors from blocking access to it.

There is no “dispute”.....if the city is maintaining it, they either now own it, have a ROW, or it is an easement.....most assuredly recorded in the courthouse. You have no choices here. 

I had this recently where we thought it was a "paper street," but researched with the city and found out that the city didn't own it, old owners who sold land to developers actually maintained ownership of that whole strip between 2 rows of homes, but most homes there just fenced it as part of their own backyard.  Unfortunately, there would be no way for them to get permit for addition or pool with that in place, so they chose another property rather than tracking down owner or dealing with adverse possession in 1.5 years when it meets the state time period.  The fact that your neighbors are actively using the road for parking access means there may not be much you can do about it, but might be worth a conversation with the city regarding true ownership as, if it is still your property with no easement, you still may be able to fence it in.     

Dispute? Doesn't look like a dispute to me. Looks like a whole bunch of people agreed on something to me. Are you expecting to dispute it?

This is not common on a parcel like yours, but is not unheard of by a long-shot either. Usually it would be lake property or a "landlocked" parcel that required easement through another to access public roadways. Often a private road will wind through multiple properties to provide access for all - sometimes those roads become public. Your case is different, where it is basically an alley that cuts through the center of the parcels.

There will likely be records (a written easement for example) to be analyzed concerning your parcel/road. If not, it is likely title has transferred out of your control already, through adverse possession or eminent domain or, your rights are limited by a general right of way. 

If you want to move in and dispute it, you will likely have a fight on your hands you may not win.

I would want to know who pays for the road when it needs replacement.

@Aidan Mulligan As others have said, there's a good chance that an easement or ROW is on file with the Registry of Deeds.  The other risk is that if you come in and kick over the hornet's nest, one or more of the neighbors could go to land court and claim "adverse possession".

NC might be different, but here in MA, if you use the property of another, "openly, continuously and notoriously" for a period of 20 years, you can file an action and potentially own that property.

If you really want to remove that road, you need to block it off for at least a day to break the "continuously" element of the test.  

Best to check the deed for easements and then get a local attorney's opinion first though.

California and Washington have many of these types of properties. Someone said, this was/is used for picking up garbage or ingress/regress. The only way this can be created is if the city took the property in eminent domain and just maintained it from there. OR, the property owners abandoned the road way and the city took possession by eminent domain...

Now, as like any easement, if you have ALL PARTIES to the agreement sign off on removing an easement of ingress/regress, have a court rule upon it, record it with the city/county, then the parcel of property reverts back to the parcels of original record. 

One also has to look at the parking situation. Is there any parking along the main public road in front of the houses and is there any off street parking at any of the houses off the main public road? Lot's of items to ponder here.

If you look to the main street side there is NO PARKING on that street adjacent to the homes on the left facing the street. Looks to me that the city doesn't/didn't grant access to parking at the homes off the main street, thus taking possession of the road in the rear of the homes granting parking and ingress/regress for each home owner.

Could you sell the cut off back yard to the neighbor across the alley? It would increase the value of his land, decrease the value and taxes of your land, and you could still use the road.

Originally posted by @Aidan Mulligan :

@David Miller the property itself is great, the area is working towards building a casino, and rentals fill quick, it’s literally just the road that’s a weird quirk.

 The road weird quirk I dont see as a big deal my question for you would be are you speculating  or buying right?? Without this future plans would you still consider buying in this area??

I have a good idea where it is... I researched the area and been there several times company I work for has a massive Data Center in the area.. Very little appreciation in the area compare to other parts but yes cash flow is pretty good and if Casino is build Im sure it will have a positive impact but what if plans dont go forward would it still be a good deal??

Where I'm from people speculated and rush to purchase in Long Island City once they heard that a certain company was coming, we all know what happen some investors learned valuable lessons about Speculating instead of buying right!!!! Although the prices where you are looking to buy is much affordable compare to LIC...

Dont get me wrong I do thing theres a good chance it will get build, lucky for tribe they dont have to worry about Liberals like us in NE.. I haven't heard much opposition which is good..

If the numbers make sense without the Casino being build absolutely consider it if not you know what happened to my neighbors when they Speculated!!!

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