Land Issues Uncategorized

Encroachments, Adverse Possession, and the like…

I am not an attorney. Any opinions herein should be understood to be from a surveyor and should not be used as legal advice.

I have heard many conversations about “squatter’s rights”, a term usually used by the layman referring to adverse possession. The statutory time will vary from state to state, as well as other requirements to make a claim of adverse possession. The reader should consult with their attorney to discuss any claim of adverse possession. New York changed the requirements to claim adverse possession a few years ago making it more difficult to bring a claim.

The first thing one needs to do is to get a survey of the property. The survey will show what might be across the boundaries.  I hesitate to use the term encroachment to describe features that might be built over boundaries because  there might be some agreement that permits them to exist.  If there is no agreement that permits it, then it is an encroachment.  It will take some research and legal advice to absolutely determine whether the trespass is an encroachment.

I have seen houses and sheds built beyond property boundaries, fences built where the boundary was thought to be.  I have seen feuds between neighbors.  They were not violent, but they were still feuds.  These problems could be made apparent or even prevented by getting the property surveyed before transfers take place.   Request that corner markers be placed by the surveyor.  While there might be an additional charge for this, it will be well worth it.  Another request to make of the surveyor is to file the plat with the the agency responsible for filing and recording surveys.  In New York, that agency is the County Clerk.  In Vermont, it is the Town Clerk.

Encroachments could lead to a claim of adverse possession, so address the issue as soon as possible.  They could be things like driveways, parking areas, fences, buildings, or other substantial structures.  Adverse possession is a legal issue, but the surveyor is a necessary part of the solution.

In his poem “Mending Wall”, Robert Frost wrote “Good fences make good neighbors.”  Get your boundaries surveyed so the fence is in the correct location.  I hear people wish for world peace.  I will settle for peaceful neighbors.

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