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We built a fence 6 years ago. A new neighbor had her land surveyed and claims our fence is in her yard and demands we move it.

Fort Mill, SC |

The surveyor found metal stakes 2 & a half feet inside our fence. 6 years ago, the builder had placed corner property stakes well past our fence line when we bought it so we thought we were fine. Our neighbor gave us a letter stating we had to move it within 2 weeks because she is grading her yard and doesn't want to incur additional costs. The land in question is at the top of a steep hill so she couldn't realistically have any use for it anyhow. When she first told us about it, she said she would not ask us to move it. Now she claims her realtor and the city engineer advised her to make us move it because it could cause her issues if she ever decides to sell the house.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

There are a couple of issues involved in this.
The first issue is whether or not your neighbor's surveyor and survey are correct. The only way to challenge or confirm the survey is to get a survey of your own (It takes an expert to challenge.). If you do not want to incur this expense, then you will probably need to concede that your neighbor's surveyor and survey are correct.
The second issue is whether or not you must move your fence. Whatever she told you is probably not important in this context. What is important is that, if her survey is correct or you choose not to challenge it, you will need to move the fence. You are trespassing on her property. You have not had a fence on her property long enough to adversely possess her land -- and, from the facts as you have related them, you did not intend to adversely possess her land.
If your fence was built in reliance on the work of another surveyor or other professional, you may be able to recover the costs of doing so from that person. You will probably need a lawyer to recover, however.
Good luck to you!

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Posted

Thank you for the response. 2 weeks is a very short period of time for me to respond and move the fence. I plan to speak to her to agree to a more reasonable length of time to make arrangements. Is there any repercussions I can face for not meeting her 2-week deadline if she pushes the issue?

Paul Dezso de Holczer

Paul Dezso de Holczer

Posted

"I plan to speak to her to agree to a more reasonable length of time to make arrangements." -- This is a good idea. I hope that she is reasonable. You might take her flowers when you go and be apologetic. The potential repercussion is that she sues you anyway, but this is unlikely if you try to work with her. If she was really aggressive, she would have already sued you. Good Luck!

Posted

My colleague is correct and you plan of action is reasonable. Builders can make mistakes, but your builder likely had a plat of your lot prior to building the house and the fence builder would have been on notice.

If you are in the wrong and can keep the fence in place you may wish to purchase that tiny strip of land from her. That purchase may have to be approved by the appropriate zoning official or property owners association, but could save you money on moving the fence, and keep your title clear of the encroachment on her property.

This answer is for general advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with James Mosteller or the Mosteller Law Firm LLC.

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