Property Lines/Septic bed on neighbours property

Our property is in MIchigan. Our neighbour which is an empty lot is planning to
build a fence but it turns out our septic bed is on her propertyfrom many years
ago now and we are concerned this fence will interfere with the septic bed. Can
we prevent her from building this fence?

Asked on May 10, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't stop them from building a fence on her own land, even if it interferes with your septic bed. In fact, she can require you to relocate the bed--and pay to remediate, or clean-up, restore, etc.--her property. The fact that the bed was on her property for "many  years" gives you right to have it there or over her property more generally. (Note: you do not meet the criteria to try to claim the land under "adverse possession" because a septic bed under her land does not qualify as "exclusive" use--preventing her from using the land, too--or sufficiently "open and notorious"--that is, an unmistakable, obvous possession of her land by you in derogation of her rights.)
You can have the land re-surveyed--maybe you actually *do* own that part--but if it is her land, she can put up her fence and make your relocate the septic bed.
Or you can negoitiate with her: maybe she'll sell you some of the land, or agree to not put up a fence and let you keep the bed there in exchange for licensing or rental payments.

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