Neighbor has fence built on our property

We purchased a house in Michigan a few years ago. We were able to recently
complete a property survey in order to begin building a fence in our backyard.
The survey company came back and we realized the neighbors fence is on our
property. We went to discuss with the neighbor, and they initially agreed to take
it down. A few weeks later, they changed their mind and are refusing to move it.
What recourse do we have? Can we tear down the fence that is on our property?

Asked on April 20, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In theory, if it is on your land, you can tear it down if they won't remove it after you gave them notice and a chance to remove it; but if they claim that it was their land and sue you over this, you'll end up in court having to prove that you had the right to remove the fence. And if a court sides with them--for example, if they have their own survey showing that the fence is on their land, and the court agrees with them--you could end up liable to them (e.g. for the cost restore the fence). The better and safer way to proceed is to file a lawsuit against them in county court seeking 1) a declartory judgment (court determination) that the fence is on your land; 2) a court order that the neighbor removes or pays to remove it. That way, you will know you are on firm legal ground.


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