A fence is an enclosed barrier that marks and stops, or at least prevents, the intrusion of strangers on someone’s private property. Some neighbors however take it too far and they build or push their fences right onto a piece of your land in an effort to enlarge their own property. What do you do then? Are you allowed (by the law) to tear down your neighbor’s fence without telling them if it is on your private property? Let’s find out.
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I Can Tear Down My Neighbor’s Fence On My Property
Yes, you can rightly tear down your neighbor’s fence if it is on your private property. But in order to do so, you would have to be very sure that the fence erected by your neighbor is actually on your side of the property before resorting to such an extreme measure as tearing it down. There is however a fence you and your neighbor would have agreed to put up together which is called a partition fence. If you happen to notice that it is skewing more onto your side of property than onto your neighbor’s, then you cannot tear it down without first consenting your neighbor. You would have to consult with the neighbor first and to their verbal or nonverbal consent you can safely tear down the fence. If your neighbor’s fence is on your side of the property and you let them know they don’t react accordingly, this would be now called a boundary dispute.
Communicate With Your Neighbor
Communication is always (and should always be) the first thing you do before you resort to tearing down your neighbor’s fence, even when it is on your property. It may be just a misunderstanding on their part. To ensure that you can back up your claim that their fence is indeed on your property, have your title deeds ready. You will know exactly where your property starts and ends. Equally you’ll know where your neighbor’s property starts and ends.
Hire A Land Surveyor
If they do not agree with you, then you can resort to hiring a land surveyor (this can be a pricey option) and since you’re the one who would have noticed the issue, you’re also most likely the one who is going to have to pay if you choose this option. But rightly so because with land surveying you can be sure that once it is confirmed by a professional who measures land and delineates property boundaries for a living that your neighbor’s fence is in fact on your property. Your neighbor should, by means of the law, remove their fence off your property. If they do not comply to this as well then you can contact the authorities.
- Be warned when tearing down your neighbor’s fence (even if it is on your property) that they can sue you for vandalism to their property (which will be their fence, but that is if you damage it in the process.)
Hire An Attorney
If you’re not sure you can take down the fence without damaging it then do not attempt to do so. It is crucial to note that the courts do not like civilians taking any serious matters into their own hands because two wrongs don’t make a right in such a situation. This is why you’d also need to also consider hiring a real estate attorney, sometimes a simple letter from a real estate attorney can do wonders if your neighbor doesn’t want to hear you out.
- As a private property owner one thing you should certainly not do is to leave this issue unresolved, after some time your neighbor can have their property lines redrawn and this will account for the extra land they got when they moved their fence onto your property, thus that piece of land becomes theirs by law. That is why you need to be familiar with where your entire property starts and ends.
Try Finding A Neighborhood Mediator
If hiring an attorney or land surveyor sounds a bit to formal or pricey for you, then you can try visiting a mediation officer in neighborhood’s homeowner association (there’s usually always one in every neighborhood) to resolve the matter. You can also hire a private mediator which is far less costly than an attorney or land surveyor. A mediator is a person who negotiates between two parties seeking to come up with a mutual agreement.
More Information About Your Neighbor’s Fence Being On Your Property
- You should be calm when this happens to you. The very fact that your neighbor (sometimes even you) are not using the little portion of your property that their fence is enclosing should be reason enough to keep you in your right mind.
- Some states are more strict than others concerning this type of incident, meaning you would need to report the matter to authorities and not try taking matters into your own hands. Therefore you should know the laws that protect you as a private property owner that are in effect in your state.
- Adverse possession is the legal means by which a trespasser or ‘neighbor’ can gain title deeds to a piece of property. This is what your neighbor may be trying to do is they put their fence onto your land, do not let them do this.
The laws in the world are filled with crevices most people can and will definitely exploit. It is often to you (the unsuspecting) that gets the raw end of the deal. As you have read, at some point (over the course of some time) it can be very legal for your neighbor to claim that it is their land on which their fence is on but it would be in fact your land. When purchasing a property, be sure to know the exact dimensions of the property to at least avoid your neighbor from possessing your land adversely.