These disputes can get complicated, and have a number of issues involved. If you left it alone for twenty years, that could be a problem. When was the last survey? Can you not access your property at all based on what he is saying is the new line? You need to visit a real estate attorney and go over all the facts to make a decision about what to do.
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You may have lost your rights to this strip of land by not correcting the problem long ago. Consult with a real estate lawyer to check if you are still able to save your property.
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The boundary line is not necessarily determined by where the fence is located. If you have not done so, you should have the property surveyed. When the survey is complete, you should have it reviewed by an experienced real estate lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can advise you on the best way to proceed.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Unless your neighbor has taken steps to adverse possession of this strip of land, you should have the property surveyed and then take it from there. Hire a good real estate attorney to review the survey and determine the appropriate course of action.
Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : email@example.com : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.
I agree with everyone else, but your question is a bit vague and confusing. If the 18" are under your title, then it's your land. I believe you can still bring an ejectment and quiet title action to recover the 18". However, give the consent, implied or actual as to the placement of the fence, I can see a judge ordering you to replace a fence on the boundary at your cost (usually w/in 6" of the boundary for safety) if 12 is enough, otherwise if you actually need the whole 18" that necessity might either win it for you, or with your neighbor's consent I can see the judge making you put the fence up at your cost just inside his boundary. BAD FENCES MAKE MAD NEIGHBORS.
The law is complicated and although the facts expressed may seem to be all that is relevant, there may be many other important facts to consider. Also, the law is constantly undergoing change, so what may be correct today, may not be accurate tomorrow. Only a full consultation with an attorney experienced or knowledgeable in the specific legal subject matter is likely to result in the optimal course of action. My practice has entailed more than a 30 year span of many real estate, personal property, and bankruptcy issues. Find out more about me at: FloridaPropertyLitigation.com.