Property Surveys
January 28, 2005 12:42 PM   Subscribe

what does one do, if ones property has been resurveyed, actually all surrounding properties have been resurveyed, and he discovers that his neighbors house is within his newly corrected property lines? (original survey was done about 60-70 years ago - hence the errors)
posted by specialk420 to Home & Garden (30 answers total)
Get a lawyer.
posted by mischief at 12:47 PM on January 28, 2005

Probably the easiest thing to do is just try and reach an arrangement where the neighbor buys the intersecting slice of property, back to what was mistakenly assumed to be the property line, at a fair market price.

After all, it's not like one thought the property was one's own until just now, and one does have the leverage, after all, in the situation. (Plus, it seems pretty fair, to me.)
posted by LairBob at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2005

Look into the Adverse Possession laws in your district. You may have options, you may be SOL. A lawyer will be able to tell you more. People who aren't lawyers can't help you in this matter; property line issues are almost always resolved by fiddly little legal details, and are almost always made worse by "common sense" observations.
posted by Aquaman at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2005

Yeah there's a ton of weird, weird property laws. It may come down to where he sleeps at night (really). Amongst other things, if your neighbor has any sense he'd have a lawyer right now.
posted by geoff. at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2005

Second the lawyer. There are a number of possible scenarios depending on your jurisdictions and local land registry system.

Do not reach any agreements with neighbours to do anything until you've spoken to a lawyer, and make sure it's a real estate lawyer, not a lawyer that does some real estate. Most lawyers have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to real estate law. Especially when the issue is title and survey related.

Also, again depending on where you are, you (or your neighbour) may be able to sue the registry system or the survey company and receive compensation for the screw-up. Do you have title insurance? Does your neighbour? Did you use lawyers to buy the property in the first place? Can you sue them for not performing due diligence?

This is a relatively complex matter, and can negatively impact you if a writ is filed against you or a lien is filed against your house to prevent you selling it until the situation is resolved. If you have a mortgage, redefining the boundaries of the property can also have a huge impact. Please see a lawyer, but if you have any other specific questions, feel free to email me.
posted by loquax at 12:56 PM on January 28, 2005

The full house? A corner of the house? Half? If it's a tiny amount you could give it away. Is the land situated so that you could swap the property the home's on for undeveloped property on his lot? If the house has been there long enough it may simply belong to him now. If this person is approachable and you're agreeable to it find a theoretical common ground before consulting a lawyer. Then, together find a lawyer you can take the legal steps to make what you've agreed to happen. Your solution dictates who pays.

If the person is not on good terms with you, learn what the legal situation is first, then try to be agreeable.
posted by putzface_dickman at 12:57 PM on January 28, 2005

Well, yes, obviously...get a lawyer involved. Didn't mean to imply that you should try and make the arrangement _yourselves_...just that it might be a viable result to aim for, if there is a real issue that has to be straightened out.

Basically, aim to readjust the property ownership to match the parameters you both thought you agreed to when you bought your properties, and do it to your financial advantage. There's no way that could (or should) happen without lawyers being involved.
posted by LairBob at 1:01 PM on January 28, 2005

There have been a lot of ongoing property disputes in this area lately, one of which was just decided this week in favor of the guy whose land was encroached on. If all the other properties have been resurveyed, does your neighbor already know that his house is on your land? If you and your neighbor both have lawyers you can probably work out something equitable for the two of you, and you may find that you have a common enemy in the surveying company or whatnot.
posted by jessamyn at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2005

Add me to the " Get Legal Advice" crowd. Even if you and your neighbor come to an agreement, it will still need to be handled by a professional. Very tricky stuff, that property law.
posted by lobstah at 1:04 PM on January 28, 2005

This happened at the house I grew up in - a good portion of houses on the block were "off" by several feet. It appears it was resolved when the neighbors each quit-claimed or sold the land for a nominal amount. Everything was recorded and all was well in our case, then my grandfather deeded his property to my mother. Whoops, the lawyer who drew that up relied on old plats and forgot to include the newly acquired property area. We discovered that fact when my mother died and we got to straighten it out through probate, some 40 years after the property lines changed.
posted by sageleaf at 1:11 PM on January 28, 2005

Just ignore it. It never bothered you before when you didn't know. Why should you care now?
posted by pissfactory at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2005

Pissfactory, it matters a lot when it comes time that someone needs to sell a house.
posted by konolia at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2005

Do not ignore it. Get a lawyer.

I can recommend one with experience in this sort of thing in the Wayzata area if you are interested.
posted by Sheppagus at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2005

Why should you care now?

No one in their right mind would ever buy specialk420's house from him. I certainly wouldn't, knowing that the boundaries intersect with someone else's home and there's a legal dispute just waiting to happen. It's worse for the neighbour though. If I were their bank, I would immediately call in the mortgage. Well, maybe I wouldn't, but banks do that sort of thing all the time. The land they though they had a charge on is not the land they actually have a charge on. Bad news for everyone.
posted by loquax at 1:21 PM on January 28, 2005

Trade the piece of land that the house sits on for an equally-sized piece of the neighbor's land?
posted by rajbot at 1:38 PM on January 28, 2005

What loquax said. Get a real estate lawyer, and get this straightened out now, before anyone needs to sell their house. Now that you are aware of the issue, you would have to disclose it to any potential buyers, and good luck finding a buyer willing to buy both your house and a potential lawsuit.
posted by ambrosia at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2005

Response by poster: thanks for the feedback - especially pissfactory. my property amount increased to include the neighbors house - sounds like a property attorney is a good place to start.
posted by specialk420 at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2005

Again with the real estate lawyer suggestion. And this does need to be resolved. If a sale needs to occur, I personlly wouldhope that it be for a "dollar" -- that you have more land with greater value is not really relevant. What does matter are issues that might affect the future use of the land. you might wish to limit your enighbor from extending their house on your land. An addition to either house might be close enough that building setbacks need to be considered. The sale of the land is the ultimate issue. I can't imagine how you could sell it with the lines as they are. (Oh , and have the survey checked again. Measure twice, divide property once -- to borrow a carpenter's phrase.)
posted by Dick Paris at 1:43 PM on January 28, 2005

Every state has different laws. Nobody can possibly telling you without knowing in what state you reside.
posted by waldo at 2:02 PM on January 28, 2005

No one in their right mind would ever buy specialk420's house from him.

Not true, especially in the 55418, which is really hot zipcode in Minneapolis. I had one of my houses surveyed a couple of years ago and found that my neighbors fence was about 2' over the property line. The fence had been there for over ten years and had I made an issue out of it, I would have ended up with a pissed off neighbor and the neighbor would have prevailed in any legal action because she got the property through adverse possession. I sold the house one year later. No big deal.

You should meet with an attorney who can explain your rights and legal ramifications to you. Feel free to email me.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:02 PM on January 28, 2005

Oh and in the interest of full disclosure, I am an attorney in Minneapolis and I have done some real estate work.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:04 PM on January 28, 2005

Response by poster: juicy - the property in question is undeveloped property tucked away in a beautiful valley in northern minnesota ... i dont know if that changes the equation?
posted by specialk420 at 2:11 PM on January 28, 2005

I say you make them move the house. or... you could post "no trespassing" signs inside their house!!
posted by Megafly at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2005

I sold the house one year later. No big deal.

It's not a question of whether or not it's a big deal to you and your neighbour, it's a question of how other parties will view the legal boundaries. If I were your neighbour, I would never choose to ignore this, instead, I would trade land with you as has been suggested or purchase the land from you outright. You may be a very nice person, another future owner might not be.

In Ontario where I am involved with the land registry system, you would need to hire a surveyor to demarkate a "splitting" of your property along the new boundary lines creating two new properties that you own. You would then sell the piece to your neighbour, and the registry office staff (In Ontario, the provincial government), would "join" that piece with the neighbours existing property, creating a new parcel of land, and leaving you each with two parcels. Swapping land would just double the process. If it works the same way in Minnesota, it should not be very complicated to resolve (I would of course defer to Juicylicious on this point, or another local lawyer). But I would strongly urge a legal, on-the-books resolution of the problem as soon as possible.
posted by loquax at 2:33 PM on January 28, 2005

thanks for the feedback - especially pissfactory.

Sorry. I wasn't trying to be a jerk. I just tend to ignore things until they blow up in my face out of laziness. Character flaw.
posted by pissfactory at 2:43 PM on January 28, 2005

Another vote for getting a lawyer, and I also know some local attorneys with experience in this sort of thing if you want a referral.
posted by norm at 2:54 PM on January 28, 2005

Time to send out the emergency lawyer signal.

If you really want to, you can take it all the way to court. However I think the court would prefer you and our neighbor work it out yourselves, because any decision they make may end up being somewhat arbitrary, take years to resolve, and give everyone invovled a headache (Did the previous owner of your neighbor's house adversely posess the land 30 years ago? Is your neighbor actually posessing under claim of title? Does it even matter? etc. I'm sure Juicy could provide much more info about this, if she's allowed to).

In short: Get a lawyer, work out a deal with the neighbor, and sell the appropriate land to them.
posted by falconred at 2:55 PM on January 28, 2005

One question - how old is the house?
posted by Juicylicious at 4:51 PM on January 28, 2005

Response by poster: juicy - i think techinically the house is about 80 years old... but has been modified.
posted by specialk420 at 5:36 PM on January 28, 2005

Response by poster: whats the happs in minneapple tonight ?
posted by specialk420 at 5:36 PM on January 28, 2005

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