Neigbor selling; landscaping encroachment

12 Replies

I own a rental property and noticed a few years ago that my neigbor had started landscaping on my property and has set a wall of plants and stones to indicate the "property line" As this was in a corner any from the house and never used I didnt think too much of it. I tried to look for the survey stake from a few years back but couldn't find it. No big deal, it must have weathered away. Now the neighbors house is for sale and I remembered the encroaching landscaping. I just now considered the possibility that she had removed the stake. Now I am worried about my title. Should I go over and move the stones and dig up flowers?

Adverse possession usually required the outside party to have been paying the taxes on the property. 

I wouldn’t worry about it, but if you are concerned you could send them a certified letter about it just putting them on notice it is subject to you removing it at any time. 

Ok when the house sells , go meet the new neighbors and tell them when you landscaped  YOUR property the neighbor next door liked it so much she asked you to keep on going .

It would pay to check the legal requirements for completing an Adverse possession in the State that your rental is in.    Here in my State, Washington, adverse possession takes just 10 years of someone using your property like their own, and that is even if you as the owner are paying all the property taxes on the area that the adverse possessor has been using.

UPDATE: I just went over to scope things out. I found the stake and tire tracks from the middle of my driveway in the middle of my property to the edge of "her" landscaped area with a bunch of boulders outlining it to prevent me from mowing. A good 20% of her front yard is now on my property. She saw I was there and came over, screamed at me. I told her this is not your property.. She lets out her dog as well as a few MFs goes completely insane screaming at the top of her lungs, complete lack of regard for being neighborly threatens to call the police. I tell her we can talk but I will not yell at you. I retreat back to my car to avoid her dog and possibly her gun. At this point I plan on trespassing her, putting up signs and a stacked fence, tossing her boulders to her side, and

Well, if the buyer using financing they’ll be getting a survey.  If you want to settle it now, get your own survey.....then have a Boulder/flower throwing party!

Originally posted by @Wayne Brooks :

Well, if the buyer using financing they’ll be getting a survey.  If you want to settle it now, get your own survey.....then have a Boulder/flower throwing party!

 This is not always true. Surveys are expensive. I seriously doubt they will just order a new one unless specifically asked for it during the buying/selling agreements. At most they will try to find the landmarks/stakes that are located on the publicly available survey. It might happen but I would not bet on it. 

I would contact the selling agent and make it known to them. Provide pictures as proof. You should also be able to go to the city and get a copy of their last survey on record. It could be DECADES old so make sure its accurate to what you have. 

It sounds like your neighbor is not going to be cooperative. I would skip trying to talk to her and go straight to an attorney. Get legal council on how you can proceed to make sure that it is publicly known that she has been encroaching on your yard. I'm sure there is legal paper work that can be sent over first without involving police. I can't really give much for advice than that as I'm not sure what to do after that. 

Good luck.

@Nik Moushon & @Wayne Brooks having experience in both FL where I am from and invest and the west coast here where I live now and have begun to invest....

A survey is required for a financed closing in FL and costs about $400, a survey is NOT required or normal for a closing in CA...and as a working land use/site civil...a simple boundary survey out here will run you $1,500 on the low low end....usually more like $2,500.

As for the adverse possession claim, as has been mentioned above AP would not come into play here....what could come into play is a "prescriptive easement'. That is a situation where someone has encroached or otherwise used the property in some way. They have lessor rights to the property than is required in AP, but also have a lessor burden of evidence. 

I actually have a client now with a Prescriptive easement claim potential....the owner placed a fence 3-4' inside their property line, and a neighbor has been using the extra 3-4' as their own for 20 years. Now the property owner intends to develop some new homes and is realizing if they go rip up the improvements they could force the prescriptive easement claim.

My advise would be to get your survey now (even if it does cost several thousand), and remove the encroachments or make them yours i.e. take ownership and maintain them....erect a new fence to create a boundary that shows your vs. her property something. Currently there is no way the improvements have been there long enough for a prescriptive easement, you want to make sure that you remedy that before too much time has passed. 

Do you have your survey from when you purchased?  That, along with your title policy will give you some protections.  I would assume you are in a subdivision.  If so, a plat of the lots should be on file at the county clerk's office.  This will show dimensions of each lot.  If she is encroaching, put her on notice by sending a registered letter (don't hand deliver).  In the letter you can state the facts and also state what you expect to be done (removal of encroachments or nothing).  If it is that big of an issue, it is probably time to consult an attorney.  I would also contact the realtor (if there is one) and make them aware of the situation and ask that they communicate it to the title company that will be closing.