Q: We bought our first house in November, 2001, and the property came with a fence. The house has been here for 17 years.
There are 5 mature trees on one side of the property that probably have also been here for 17 years.
The lot next to us has been cleared and the owner wants to build a house on it. He says our fence is in the wrong spot and we need to move it back 10 feet. Well, we moved it about 5 feet already and he’s telling us to move it more.
We bought our home this way. The trees have been the property line as long as the house has been here. Our Realtor sold us the house and lot and told us that was the property line. We were led to believe that we were buying the land and trees that were already on our property.
I’m scared we will lose our trees and a lot of our land! The house on the other side of the lot was built last year and we watched the contractor survey the lot. He had no idea what he was doing. So we think his survey is incorrect. They already put a huge fence up and now they (the lot owner and home on other side of lot owner) are both saying we are the ones at fault.
I’ve contacted the local Recording Office and none of the lots around us have surveys on file. What should we do?
A: Instead of throwing your hands into the air, you should contact a good surveyor and pay whatever it costs to have your lot surveyed. In fact, you should have done this when you purchased the property instead of relying on your agent or the seller’s verbal promises.
As you can see now, whatever they told you might have been wrong. You need to find out quickly what you own. You’d be wise to consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney who can help you sort this out before you wind up losing possession of land that could be yours.
While you’re at the attorney’s office, you can discuss what legal options you have if it turns out that the property you thought was yours turns out to belong to someone else.
Published: May 20, 2005