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Real estate property line encroachment, abandonment law

San Diego, CA |

Our neighbor pushed back the slope on their west side of front yard and installed a 9 foot retaining wall leaving about a foot of their property line next to ours. Leaving us to maintain it since 1998 when we all first moved into the development. This 2nd owner neighbor moved into the house 6 - 7 years ago, re-landscaped the front yard & left the foot of the same property line for us to maintain. Until a week ago, they decided to send us a certified letter to "cease & desist" & remove the ground cover we have put in on this one foot of their property line. They gave us 30 days to remove it, otherwise they will seek damages thru court order against us. Are we liable to comply & do anything? Does this fall into the 5 year real estate abandonment ?

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Attorney answers 2


This is definitely not a question that can be answered via a written post.

California law in regards to boundary disputes is complex and technical. Please note, typically location of a fence does not control for boundary lines.

There are too many variables to discuss in a written post forum such as this. You should discuss this matter with legal counsel as the law in this realm is complex and oftentimes, the best result is achieved through negotiation and settlement and/or some other form of alternative dispute resolution.

I have posted some information regarding boundary disputes in my avvo legal guides for your review.

Hope this helps.


If this is really just about the removal of ground cover, it's a very heavy handed approach. If it's just ground cover and it's on their property, why don't they just remove it themselves? It would be a lot less expensive then hiring an attorney to sue you. In fact, if the amount of damages is less than $7500, then they are in small claims court and must represent themselves (unless they want injunctive relief but you said damages). So I sense that there is more to this story. In terms of you gaining ownership of it, in California, you can't get adverse possession over another's property unless you've been paying the property taxes on it. There are various other possibilities, but I concur with the prior person who answered this -- boundary line issues are complex and there is a lot of law on the subject. I'm also not clear on what you want. It sounds like it would be better for you if they maintained their own property, and it sounds like they now want to do that. If what you really want is a prescriptive easement over this part of the property, then it's a different story.