Good Sawzall make good neighbors?

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
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vinny11950

Minister of Fire
May 17, 2010
1,683
Eastern Long Island, NY
Seems like a lot of work. I would have given up after the first plunge cut.

Seriously, nobody wins here. Now there is a damaged building next door that is not occupied.

Crazy
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,295
Northern Maine
Gotta love his principles just the same.

Brings get off my lawn to a new level.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,509
Midwest
Lol - Maine - go figure!

Though it does sort of remind me of a local story... The house I grew up in as a kid - by the time we moved in, it was a two-bedroom house where the original garage had been converted to a third bedroom and a family room. The house changed hands several times after we moved out and finally wound up in the hands of the local (county/city) surveyor. He wanted to add a garage back, so extended the footprint of the house even further for the new addition.

Come to find out, the new garage was ~4 feet on the neighbors yard - he never surveyed it! So he wound up buying a strip of land from the neighbor. Luckily she was a nice old lady and sold it at 'fair' price.

Interestingly, I think what happend - it was the same old lady neighbor as when we lived there. As a 'free labor' 10 year old, I was directed to mow our yard and sometimes hers as well. At the very least, I'd mow 3-4 feet over the property line to help her out. That was the state the house was in when we sold it and I think each new owner kept mowing that 3-4 feet thinking it was their land...until the surveyor finally built on it!
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,295
Northern Maine
D-F had the highest tax rate in Piscatiquis County so I'm sure the owner wanted his fair share of what he was paying for. I'm not 100% of that info today but they are considered the center of the county having the court, jail, and dispatch duties. It has some wonderful old homes that are very well kept up.
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
413
Idaho
I am more impressed with the guy getting a divorce who poked a chainsaw out a window and walked around the house.
 

heat seeker

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2011
3,153
Northern CT
I am more impressed with the guy getting a divorce who poked a chainsaw out a window and walked around the house.
Now that's a visual!
 
Jun 8, 2020
102
Craig County, VA
That's exactly why you need to get building permits before building. Also, always get the land surveyed when purchasing a new place. It avoids problems down the road. I doubt that the kind of situation in the article is common, but land disputes over usage is fairly common. The past two houses I bought, I had issues with neighbors and the property boundries came into play each time and ended in surveys-usually one by each land owner.

I had a survey done on a house I bought in a residential area and had a survey done when moving in due to some public sewer lines that ran across the property. I had the lawyer who did the closing to work out with the county a contract that said if they ever had issues with the sewer and needed to dig, they would have to move the sewer lines off of the property. After moving in, I noticed the neighbor had done a lot of landscaping and mowing way over on my property. I decided to put up a split rail fence. I mowed along the true property line for about a month and he would just come in behind me and mow the same area. I laid out the posts and cross pieces along the property line well before I decided to install them so that he knew it was coming. About 15 minutes after I started digging the first hole, he was driving by and stopped right in the middle of the road and started fussing at me saying I would be removing that fence-he had been paying taxes on that land for 30 years and shook some paperwork at me. I told him I had it surveyed when I moved in and that if he didn't trust the survey to have one done himself. He did and needless to say, I didn't have to take down any fence. When they saw the stakes were only about 3' from the edge of their house, his wife rushed out there and pulled them up hoping we didn't see them.

After the fence was up, things settled down pretty quickly other than the old man getting his riding mower stuck in an area that was pretty tight between his house and the fence. Should have weed-eated that area anyway.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,538
WI, Leroy
10ft wide300 yard stretch that the farmer had been plowing for years. He was a bit miffed- but got over it. Survey brought this to light.
 
Jun 8, 2020
102
Craig County, VA
On another property I moved into, I had put a small storage shed at the back of our property. After the neighbors dog (2 large black labs) kept using our flowers and yard for a bathroom regularly and really scaring our small dog when she was out, ripping our trash all over the place when we put it at the road for pickup, we had to say something about keeping their dogs under control. They never listened and when my wife unloaded on them one day, they brought up the storage building being on their property. I said I didn't believe it was and they would have to have a survey before I moved it. It was indeed one foot over on their property, so I moved it to where it was at least 10' from the property boundary. Of course, this did not end the dog issue and that ended up in court and they were found guilty and the judge let them have it. Of course they did ok with it for a while, but until I ran a privacy fence along the whole property line, then things settled down.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
Be careful with surveys, folks get what they pay for. When I was an engineering intern for a water utility in Maine years ago I did surveys under the "supervision" of Registered Land Surveyor. He loved to do surveying but he had a growing family so he needed good benefits and a retirement, so he worked for the utility even though he did not get out in the field surveying very often. Maine had passed a requirement that all properties had to be surveyed when they were sold. Unfortunately the law did not say how accurate a survey had to be done. Therefore many surveyors would hire technicians to drive around and do quick surveys where they barely got out of the truck let alone get out a transit. My boss wanted to go off on his own and get into the market so I heard a lot about it but he stayed for the benefits. The result of these quickie surveys would be a sketch and an opinion where the property lines were relative to fixed assets like the house, accessory structures and "improvements". The technician might get out of the truck with metal detector and attempt to find the property corners and mark them with ribbon. There would be an asterisk on the drawing going to a big disclaimer that the surveyor wasn't liable for any errors or omissions. Real Estate agents are trained not to make assertions on anything regarding real estate they are representing and the usual sellers disclosure form is rarely enforceable as the seller is a non professional and is only disclosing things that they think they know. In sales transactions both the buyer and seller usually want to get the process done quickly and cheaply. Thus a $100 Class C survey meets the law and happens quickly.

The other thing to factor in is that unlike much of the east of the original 13 colonies, the surveys are not tied to township boundaries. Land in the midwest and west are usually to the original township surveys. A township is square intended to be 6 miles by 6 miles with 36 section lots one mile square which is 640 acres. A 1/4 section is 160 acres. All the surveys are tied to the same boundaries. The original 13 states and much of Maine existed before the township system was put in place. The chain of title may go back to royal grants and they are very broad and overlapping. Many properties were quit claimed by the owners to subsequent sellers and its not unusual to have major issues with the original deeds. Subsequent deeds carry those error with them. It was not unusual for the acreage listed on deed to be off 10 to 30%. Most surveyors are local and stick to a particular region, they know the peculiarities of the underlying deeds and usually have worked out a solution to inconsistencies. Ultimately contrary to common belief is that the surveyors survey is his professional opinion. In some cases two surveyors may come up with two different opinions of where the property boundaries lie. In that case it can go to court where each surveyor has to lay out what evidence there is support their claims and the judge ultimately rules on which has the best case. Frequently there is no hard and fast best case to the judge picks somewhere in between the two claims.

To add to the confusion, there are what are called prescriptive rights also known as squatters rights (and few other names) where if one party openly uses another's property, they eventually gain rights on the property unless the property owner takes certain actions. This varies state by state but I think Maine has 20 year "clock". Use the land like its yours for 20 years and the neighbor does nothing and you may retain the rights to keep doing what you are doing. its not automatic, and the land never become yours free and clear and there are exceptions. One big one is you can not get rights to federal land.

In my case, the adjacent lot owner at one point sold to another person. Someone in the transaction remarked the property line through the woods. I hope it was not a surveyor as they drove in a new pipe where one was missing extending my frontage a couple of feet and used the wrong back property corner to run the line through the woods. Therefore the current owner thinks that I own more land than I do. Its a 250' long triangle roughly 40' wide tapering to rough point. Its just woods and my town has a 25' setback so if the neighbor uses this bad line it just means he builds farther away from my lot. I do not actively trespass on it so I have no possible rights.

On the other hand my wood lot has a driveway across a front corner of my land from an adjacent summer cottage. The cottage has been there since 1900 owned by one family (now in trust). As long as they dont try to expand the trespass, no matter what I do I lose if I push the issue. Its within town setback rules so I cant use it. It does become sticky if I sell my lot but all I need to do is disclose it for the future buyer. The cottage owners would have an issue in the future if they sell as they would need to go to court and make this trepass formal. Odds are they would rather write me a check for me to quit claim a right of way.

So if you do have questionable boundary or a neighbor who ignores it, its time to hire a reputable surveyor and establish the boundary. My normal recommendation is put in granite monument or something else that can not be readily moved or removed. If you go with the standard steel pipe, drive two. One is pounded into the ground so its completely buried a few inches deep. The other one is pounded in to make it visible. Make sure there is stamped plot plan created and filed with the registry of deeds. Notification to the "trespasser" usually has to be documented and provable. No problem if you dont mind them using your property, you just need for them acknowledge that its your property and they have no permanent rights. This is best done with a legal written document versus verbal.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
o add to the confusion, there are what are called prescriptive rights also known as squatters rights (and few other names) where if one party openly uses another's property, they eventually gain rights on the property unless the property owner takes certain actions. This varies state by state but I think Maine has 20 year "clock".
This really irritates me. In my state it is called "Adverse possession" and the squatter can actually take your land free and clear after 7 years of "use". I see it as theft.

Oh and I've done lots of surveying myself under the supervision of a registered Land Surveyor. That's usually how it's done these days. The guy with the license spends time in the office preparing the prints, bidding, and doing valuable work while the young punks go out and cut line, pound hubs, and set corners. Actual field work is much different now with the very expensive electronic gadgets.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Alberta also has an Adverse Possession law that comes into affect after 10 years. There have been cases recently where landowners have lost their land and then been sued by the new "owner" for legal fees if the original owner lays claim to the land. In one case a rancher lost 10 acres to his neighbor. Although the government is currently in the process of reviewing this and intends to get rid of the law entirely.

As far as surveying though I'm glad our area was surveyed much more recently, everything here is layed out in townships and boundaries are well defined. The province keeps very close records of boundaries and who owns what. The municipalities also do as well when it comes to city lots. Yet after all this we aren't required to complete survey's for putting up fences, so there has been dispute over this, and some have used the adverse possession law to claim some of their neighbors land after installing a fence on their side.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
This really irritates me. In my state it is called "Adverse possession" and the squatter can actually take your land free and clear after 7 years of "use". I see it as theft.

Oh and I've done lots of surveying myself under the supervision of a registered Land Surveyor. That's usually how it's done these days. The guy with the license spends time in the office preparing the prints, bidding, and doing valuable work while the young punks go out and cut line, pound hubs, and set corners. Actual field work is much different now with the very expensive electronic gadgets.
I have collected a set of 20 plus year old electronic survey tools for my own use. Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) has made all the difference in speed and accuracy. The new reflector less technology has made things far quicker for site topo although LIDAR is even faster if someone can afford it. Differential GPS has made things a lot quicker for boundaries but someone still has to go out in the field and see if the lines line up with the where the boundaries are supposed to be. Loggers now have GPS devices in each harvester, if they stray over the line the device warns them. Of course all the accuracy in world does not clean up problems caused in the past with bad deeds or someone putting the wrong data in the device.

I used to find old deeds all the time where the property boundaries were measured along the ground instead of correcting for slope. There is a lot of slopes in New England so when those hill side lots were measured the back line was inevitably closer to the street then the owners thought.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,602
Nova Scotia
This really irritates me. In my state it is called "Adverse possession" and the squatter can actually take your land free and clear after 7 years of "use". I see it as theft.
I think every jurisdiction has this legal principal, but time periods can vary. I think ours is 20 years. But someone trying to confirm an adverse claim has to satisfy some pretty stringent conditions. All you should have to do, as the owner of record, is be aware of the situation & tell the neighbour you know about it. (Suggesting it stop, or outlining how it can continue under certain circumstances likely also good). Have seen it ruled out by a court where the owner of record simply walks into/across the 'occupied' area from time to time - resetting the clock each time. Defeats the 'open & exclusive' aspect of the possession.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
It does vary significantly country by country and state by state. Anyone concerned with this needs to verify what the rules are in their jurisdiction. Frequently this is like throwing chum in the water for lawyers. If someone is trying to buy or sell a piece of property they can be held up for months or years in closing the transaction while the problem is resolved. That puts the selling or buying party in a bad situation as the other party is in no rush.

I have heard in many cases in Maine and NH that a verbal "warning" is not adequate in court. It should be a formal documented dated warning. My lawyer recommended a certified letter to the neighbor. Note if you are friendly with the neighbor you can agree that they can continue to use your property with the understanding that it is yours and they gain no long term rights. Reportedly Rockefeller plaza in NYC is treated like a public plaza but is actually owned by a private entity. They close the plaza for one day each year to the public so that they retain the property rights.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,295
Northern Maine
It does vary significantly country by country and state by state. Anyone concerned with this needs to verify what the rules are in their jurisdiction. Frequently this is like throwing chum in the water for lawyers. If someone is trying to buy or sell a piece of property they can be held up for months or years in closing the transaction while the problem is resolved. That puts the selling or buying party in a bad situation as the other party is in no rush.

I have heard in many cases in Maine and NH that a verbal "warning" is not adequate in court. It should be a formal documented dated warning. My lawyer recommended a certified letter to the neighbor. Note if you are friendly with the neighbor you can agree that they can continue to use your property with the understanding that it is yours and they gain no long term rights. Reportedly Rockefeller plaza in NYC is treated like a public plaza but is actually owned by a private entity. They close the plaza for one day each year to the public so that they retain the property rights.
Yup. Certified return receipt of notice is SOP for such effected property.

Better yet make sure you are improving YOUR property and avoid the issue all together.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
We recommend going to the county hall and recording the “letter” on yours and their titles. It’s pretty cheap and forever.
 

lml999

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2013
516
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
We bought a house five years ago on Cape Cod. Mortgage paperwork showed the lot line to be 14' from one side of the house. Pretty tight...and this was where I wanted to set up some firewood racks. Looked like "usage" gave me more like 20-25 feet, so...

Two months later I was at Town Hall looking for a permit that should have been pulled by the PO to install a gas hot water heater. Said hot water heater was trying to kill us with a bad draft letting combustion gases into the basement rather than up the flue, but I digress.

The only thing in the jacket was the original property plan, showing not a 14' gap between house and lot line, but 41'. Yea.

I come back to the house and our next door neighbor, a lovely older woman, and her real estate broker (she had just put her house on the market) were standing on her driveway. I happened to mention the discrepancy, and she laughed, pointed to the edge of her driveway and said "yep, that's just about where your property ends."
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
We bought a house five years ago on Cape Cod. Mortgage paperwork showed the lot line to be 14' from one side of the house. Pretty tight...and this was where I wanted to set up some firewood racks. Looked like "usage" gave me more like 20-25 feet, so...

Two months later I was at Town Hall looking for a permit that should have been pulled by the PO to install a gas hot water heater. Said hot water heater was trying to kill us with a bad draft letting combustion gases into the basement rather than up the flue, but I digress.

The only thing in the jacket was the original property plan, showing not a 14' gap between house and lot line, but 41'. Yea.

I come back to the house and our next door neighbor, a lovely older woman, and her real estate broker (she had just put her house on the market) were standing on her driveway. I happened to mention the discrepancy, and she laughed, pointed to the edge of her driveway and said "yep, that's just about where your property ends."
The good news is you ended up with more land, the bad news is how many years did you not know. The standard recommendation to a neighbor is dont ask dont tell if the new neighbor doesnt know their boundaries and it works to the neighbors advantage.

Generally if there is neighbor that is using land that is not theirs and its not bothering anything, wait until one party or the other goes to sell the property and get it surveyed if its to your advantage.

I am aware of a situation where a an old timer had a 100 by 100 lot in the country. He had been there for 40 plus years and slowly had expanded his use well over into the adjoining properties. When he moved out of his home the neighbor got a surveyor in an marked the line and the property corner. It was just about in the center of the mowed lawn. When the house went on the market it was real obvious where the corners actually were so any buyer did not make the mistake that they had more land than they thought. Note a realtor does not need to disclose that the prior property owner may have been using someone else's property, if potential buyer asks and the corners are not obvious then the realtor can just suggest that he can contact the seller if the buyer wants. If the seller cares to misrepresent where the property lines are its the sellers liability not the realtor. In this case the old timer had passed so it would be sold with a quit claim deed making no representations on the property so a buyer who bought it thinking they had more land than they did they would have no recourse. In most states the trespass does not go with the land so the new buyer has no rights to continue to trespass unless the neighbor lets them.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,222
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I've always had good neighbors, but the way the tree line next to my house is situated it makes it appear as though the neighbor actually owns more land than they actually do. When my old neighbor moved out and put his house on the market I made sure to clearly mark the boundary with stakes and string . . . although my new neighbor is just as easy going and nice (heck, she lets me cut downed trees on her property!)
 

lml999

Minister of Fire
Oct 25, 2013
516
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The good news is you ended up with more land, the bad news is how many years did you not know.
Two months after closing. Plenty of time to assert my dominance over the additional land...which mostly means additional mowing/seeding/raking. Yikes...
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
BTW the town was gladly taxing you on that land so might as well use it.

Remember with the exception of few places next to volcanoes that "they dont make more land" On Cape Cod I expect that the concern is loss of land due to rising sealevel and storm surge.

If you can find someone with a metal detector it may be worth a sweep near the corners. Frequently the pins are driven low and get pounded down below ground as they are in the way plowing and mowing. You can not legally drive a new pin but if there is one there you can dig a divot to confirm it and put a wooden stake next to it. Not sure for Mass but in NH you have 20 years to assert your rights with the new neighbor.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,602
Nova Scotia
BTW the town was gladly taxing you on that land so might as well use it.

Remember with the exception of few places next to volcanoes that "they dont make more land" On Cape Cod I expect that the concern is loss of land due to rising sealevel and storm surge.

If you can find someone with a metal detector it may be worth a sweep near the corners. Frequently the pins are driven low and get pounded down below ground as they are in the way plowing and mowing. You can not legally drive a new pin but if there is one there you can dig a divot to confirm it and put a wooden stake next to it. Not sure for Mass but in NH you have 20 years to assert your rights with the new neighbor.
That's assuming that whatever is found is where it should be. Could be risky relying on something dug up or found without having its location confirmed by a surveyor.