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Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:37 PM

Question for any DU real estate/legal experts. (If I am on wrong forum please advise).

My 98 year old Democrat neighbor is worried. Our entire street was just surveyed, either at the request of the town or the owner of the property next to her. The owner may want to develop the property (good chance) as it is in a prime downtown location. Her house was built in the 1940's and she moved there either late 50's or early 60's. But this survey is showing her losing about twenty feet that she and her family, kids, etc., have maintained and mowed for over half a century (without records ).
I am on the opposite side of the street and am not affected, but I hate for her to be worried.


We also found out that her family has been mowing and maintain a patch of ground (approximately 15' x 100') that is now actually being found to belong to the town, on a different side of the property….for over 50 years.

She has never built any permanent structures across the boundary, other than a metal clothesline which is maybe 40-50 years old. I told her daughter that it would be well worth the price to consult with a good real estate attorney and also advised her to go to the county offices and ask to have someone search the archives for the original survey. This is a small mountaion town so I am not optimistic about what will be there.

Any advice? Thanks. GOTV!!!

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Reply Question for any DU real estate/legal experts. (If I am on wrong forum please advise). (Original post)
dameatball Oct 2018 OP
spooky3 Oct 2018 #1
dameatball Oct 2018 #5
Sedona Oct 2018 #2
SCantiGOP Oct 2018 #3
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #4
dameatball Oct 2018 #6
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #7
spooky3 Oct 2018 #8
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #9
dameatball Oct 2018 #11
BumRushDaShow Oct 2018 #10
yonder Oct 2018 #12
dameatball Oct 2018 #13

Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:40 PM

1. "Adverse possession." I'm not an attorney, but this

May be the term you would want to look up to see what the law is in your state.

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Response to spooky3 (Reply #1)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:47 PM

5. Thanks. Every little bit of info helps. I need to try to convince her what to do.

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Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:44 PM

2. Your neighbor may have some rights by "adverse possession"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_possession

But it may take a pricey lawyer to fight a municipality dor it. Where is it?

Any attorney types here want to help an old woman fight city hall.pro bono?

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Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:46 PM

3. It's probably the right-of-way

Most city streets have at least a 50 foot ROW, so even though you own that 25 feet of land from the center of the road and can be required to maintain it, the Town (or State or County) actually controls it. Lawns, private sidewalks, mailboxes can all be placed there, but the govt has a right to move them for road expansions, public sidewalks, etc.
Nothing you can do about it, but before paying some attorney just go to the City Hall or County Courthouse and ask what is going on. May not be any problem at all.

Utility companies can also have ROW. If it is all private property and she has been mistaken about where the line was it is very doubtful that she will have any recourse.

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Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:47 PM

4. Theories like adverse possession, prescriptive easement, or boundary by practical location

might provide a remedy, depending on the law in your state. Generally, if someone uses and maintains property as their own over a period of time (commonly 15 years but it might be different in some states) without anyone trying to stop them, they can claim ownership of it. She needs to get a real estate lawyer to sort it all out.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #4)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:48 PM

6. Yes, that's what I told he daughter.

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Response to dameatball (Reply #6)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:52 PM

7. Usually adverse possession only applies where other private property

and not government property is involved, but it's going to depend on local law so a lawyer in your city should be consulted.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #7)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:55 PM

8. My reading of the OP was that the land is privately owned

By someone who may want to develop it or sell it to a developer. Maybe I misunderstood.

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Response to spooky3 (Reply #8)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:57 PM

9. One of the other posts mentioned rights-of-way

so I brought up the point about government property, but if it's privately owned that's not a problem.

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Response to spooky3 (Reply #8)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 07:09 PM

11. You did not misunderstand. This is not a local gvrnment easement, it is private property.

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Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 05:59 PM

10. Here in PA they often call that patch an "easement"

where it actually belongs to the municipality or some other entity. The original deed should have some type of map and/or surveyor's notations marking the original boundaries of the property if anything.

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Response to dameatball (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 07:56 PM

12. If the surveyors were in the "entire street" only,

then it might be just a topographic survey, for civil design of drainage improvements, sewer, utility improvements, etc. Usually they will collect enough corner evidence to establish any public right-of-way but not necessarily enough to analyze for a full-blown property survey. If your neighbor has been maintaining things in the right-of-way, there is not much she can do: "The King will get his due". Utility easements might encumber a certain width of private property adjacent to and outside of that public right-of-way or side/back property line. The utility(s) in question has/have specific rights and restrictions spelled out in the easement documents or on the plat (if platted).

If you saw the surveyors digging up and measuring corner evidence or setting property corners in back yards/lines, it is probably a property boundary survey from which a Record of Survey and property description may likely be prepared and recorded with the county. Part of their job is to uncover, measure and record all available monument evidence, lines of occupation, etc. to analyze and prepare for subsequent filing with the county. In that case gaps, overlaps, encroachments and/or non-prescribed uses as you mentioned may be noted on the survey.

If your neighbor's property is an unplatted parcel and not part of an adjacent platted subdivision it might have some senior rights. That is where surveyors, attorneys, courts, lots of money and likely bad feelings come in to play. Suing for adverse possession or some kind of prescriptive right, IMO, is an ugly, expensive, somewhat rare, last resort thing to do. I've seen once friendly neighbors turn into bitter enemies fighting over little strips of land, that in the big picture don't amount to much. It's far better to try and iron things out before it gets to that point.

Long story short: Go to your county assessors office, ask some questions, see if there is a recently recorded survey you could look at, etc. Maybe ask the local highway district if they are planning on anything. Or if you know the name of the survey firm, they might be willing to shed some light. If they were city or county surveyors, my guess is they were doing a little design topo for some kind of improvement. Good luck and try to stay out of court.

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Response to yonder (Reply #12)

Mon Oct 22, 2018, 08:31 PM

13. Good advice!

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