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Question DetailsAsked on 10/7/2014

Whose fence is it?

My house was built in 1947 & my neighbor's house was built in 1952. My neighbor was the original & only owner of his property. My house has flipped a number of times. Someone at some time put up an 8' privacy fence. The side separating us is falling down, some of the pickets are rotted and some are barely hanging on. My neighbor died 2 years ago and his estate is still in probate. I would love to know whose fence it is. Per modern custom, people in Dallas seem to put the 'pretty side' facing their own property. In the past, however, good manners prevailed & the 'pretty' side faced outwards towards one's neighbor, if this makes sense. Since my neighbor died there is no one who knows the ownership of the fence. I'm on a fixed income & there's no way I could replace my entire fence, let alone just that side. Do I wait until the house is out of probate & sells (which it will do quickly) & rely on new owner's property survey or be proactive? If I need to be proactive, what do I need to do?

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2 Answers


The first question that needs to be addressed is, where is the property line located?

When the house next door is sold, property lines need to be drawn by a professional surveyor. It can be a request from the buyer in the deal made when the house is sold.

If you want to know before the house is sold, you will have to have the survey done at your cost. Be sure to check the laws because even the side of the fence that faces your home may not be yours to stain or repair.

Know what the law is before doing anything.

Answered 5 years ago by gardengal7


You could rely on the new owner's survey (if one is done) if they agree to let you see it and discuss the fence issue with you, though that raises the risk they might ask for contribution from you for repair/replacement.

If you address the issue with the executor of the estateat this time he/she might provide a copy of the prior survey on that property if you ask - though might end up following up with demand you fix fence if on your side and leaning onto theirs OR if a shared fence, in which both parties have to share in repair costs.

Alternatives -

1) look in your purchase documents for a copy of your property survey when you bought and see if it shows the fence - commonly attached to your title insurance policy. If can't find with purchase paperwork if you know the title/escrow closing company that was used they should have a copy in their files - your buying realtor might (if not too long ago) have a record of who handled closing in their files in sale contract documents.

If fence is on your side or straddling the line (which should have triggered a disputed boundary issue at title insurance time) then it should show on your survey - if it does not show, then probably on neighbor's property entirely. If it shows at all, it should indicate how it lies relative to the property line, with offset information from line to fence, and a line on the drawing showing where fence lies relative to property line.

2) look for your property markers and run a stringline or laser line between them to see which side fence is on, assuming terrain and vegetation allows that. Property corners are usually 1/2" x 2-3 foot long rebar with or without alumicap (aluminum knob with punches or engraved info on it), usually sticking up a half foot or less except flush in paving (originally) and in trafficked/mower areas where usually driven an inch or two below ground, so uyou might need a metallic stud/nail finder to locate it yourself. In untrafficked areas usually flanked by 1/2x3" or so surveyor lathe 2-3 feet long or about 1.5x1.5" or 2x2" hardwood foot high post, typically with surveyor flagging on it. My non-trafficked corners still had original staking and flagging, including readable notes on the wood after about 30 years ! Of course, corners in the street had been paved over but were easily uncovered.

3) you can always get it surveyed by a property surveyor - I did that about 5 years ago when both neighbor and I were doing fences - cost I think was $175 to confirm corners, set two offset rebar at the road easement line (our property actually goes to center of road), and put in about 10 on-line marking rebar which I provided to provide points-on-line for fence construction. My cost was on lower end because I pre-located and dug out the survey hubs in the center of roadway before they came and had located and cleared around other corners, and no significant brushing was needed to provide line of sight. If they have to bring in survey from further away then in subdivisions survey cost might go up to about $250 range, and of course can be far more in very rural areas where survey control has to be brought in from the nearest 1/4 section or even section corners 1/4 to 1 mile away.

I don't know that knowing in advance is really going to help you any - what the new owner want will not change because of that, and you can work it out then - hopefully it will be a reasonable person or it will turnn out to not be a shared fence so the most you would have to do is get rotted posts propped up so it does not go over the line, if anything.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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