What can I do if my next door neighbor has built a fence that clearly encroaches on my property line?

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What can I do if my next door neighbor has built a fence that clearly encroaches on my property line?

We have purchased a property survey and submitted notice to these neighbors via certified mail. They have responded with a statement that their fence “was constructed as a direct replacement of the existing fence that predated our ownership”. Is there a law on the books that supports this?

Asked on December 10, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no law allowing them to encroach on your land, even if they are replacing a fence which predates your ownership: an error, even a long-standing one, does not give them ownership or control over your real estate. If the fence is truly on your land, you can force them to remove it at their own expense.
Of course, if they don't agree that they have to remove the fence, you will have to sue them in county court for a court declaratory judgment (determination) of where the property line is and an injunction (order) requiring its removal. In such a suit, you will have to put actual accredited, expert surveyors on the stand to testify as to the boundaries, how they determined them, etc. If the neighbors have their own surveyors who feel that the fence is on the neighbor's property, they can put their experts up, and the court will determine who is right. This can be a somewhat expensive process, since not only will you need the expert(s) to testify, but you are strongly advised to retain an attorney to represent you (this is much more complex than, say, the typical small claims case) and you'l have to pay those costs yourself (even if you win, you typically do not get them from the other side).


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