As the poet Robert Frost said, “good fences make good neighbors.” But a disagreement about who actually owns which fence can disrupt the neighborly peace.
There are a few ways to determine who owns which fence in a property, depending on the law of your state or local jurisdiction. Using legal documents such as transfer documents, a conveyance deed, or a title plan is usually the best way to resolve this issue.
Ownership by Occupancy
Who owns which fence in a property is a question many homeowners ask. The answer is not always straightforward, especially when it comes to the cost of maintenance and repair.
One way to establish ownership is by occupation. This type of ownership requires that someone has possession of a piece of land for a specific period https://www.longviewfence.com/ and that they are doing so with the actual consent or permission of the owner.
For instance, if you and your neighbor have a yard that doesn’t have a dividing fence between it, but Joey builds a shed on Elaine’s side of the property, and it covers about three feet of her land, this could be enough to claim adverse possession. However, it would also have to be an active, hostile, open, and exclusive use of that three feet of land. This can only happen if the neighbor has been using it for at least a year.
Ownership by Enclosure
Enclosure is the process of enclosing or covering something, typically with a fence. This may be a simple wooden fence, or it might involve a woven or welded mesh screen. Regardless of its construction, a well-designed enclosure will be the envy of any property owner.
Often, the most accurate way to figure out who owns which fence in a property is by checking the seller’s property information form. This will usually contain a list of landowners and their respective legal rights. This will give you a good idea of which side of the fence you own and which one you are liable for. Luckily, this is only a small part of the puzzle and a slew of other methods can also be used to determine who owns which fence in a property. Whether you are using one of these strategies or another, it’s always a good idea to get the ball rolling before things start to get out of hand!
Ownership by Legal Documents
While it’s true that good fences can make great neighbors, a dispute over who owns which fence can disrupt the peace. Conflicts often arise when there is a need to repair or replace the fence, or when new construction or ownership takes place.
A simple way to establish who owns which fence in a property is to examine the legal documents related to that property. The most common are warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds.
Adjacent landowners may also settle a boundary dispute by entering into a memorandum (parol agreement). This memo can be recorded in the land records and will bind not only present owners but their successors.
Ownership by Right of Possession
A fence can be a valuable tool in determining the boundaries of one’s property. However, it can also be a barrier to an adverse possession claim by another party.
Adverse possession, or hostile possession, is a legal doctrine that allows a claimant to take title to land that he did not originally own. This is a difficult situation to defend because it involves an involuntary change of ownership without compensation.
Adverse possession standards generally include a period of open, notorious, exclusive and adverse use of the disputed property. In order to be considered adverse possession, a claimant must meet these standards for at least ten years.