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A man building a wooden fence in his backyardRobert Frost said “Good fences make good neighbors”.

Lawyers add, provided the fence is on the boundary line.

Fences are often intended to mark property lines.  If people see a fence they may rightfully assume it marks a property line.  If asked, lawyers will tell a property owner to place fences so the outside edge is on the boundary line or an inch or two inside the boundary.  Lawyers will often recommend they hire a land surveyor to place stake on the property line so the fence is located properly.

Alas, owners usually don’t ask their lawyer, nor do they hire a surveyor.

So fences are placed where the owner thinks the property line is located.  If the owner is wrong, the fence may be located as much as several feet from the true boundary line.  And the fence may be well inside the owner’s true boundary or it may be on the neighbor’s land.

Should the owner want to sell the property, the owner’s attorney will have to obtain a new survey.  If the fence has not been placed on the property’s actual boundary line, the new survey will show the buyer’s lawyer there is a misplaced fence.  It’s likely the buyer’s lawyer will require a boundary line agreement with the neighbor to establish that the correct boundary is as shown on the survey.   This will take time.  If the neighbor is willing to sign that’s great.  If the neighbor refuses to sign, it’s likely the closing will be delayed.

Misplaced fences can create a problem and may result in extra expense and delays in closing.  If you are constructing a fence, consider engaging a surveyor to place stakes in your boundary line so the fence can be placed properly.

The attorneys at Lacy Katzen understand the headaches that can arise from situations such as these.  If you are considering putting up a fence on your property, please contact one of the attorneys in our Real Estate Department.

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