By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Poet Robert Frost observed that good fences make good neighbors. But what happens if you accidentally build a fence on your neighbor’s lawn?
It took four years, but the dispute over the property line in Tremont, Maine was finally resolved this month, when John Buckwalter was finally allowed to build a fence on the land that abuts his neighbor’s parking lot. And in Tremont, this made news.
But far more irritating than many national stories are the legal wranglings literally in your own back yard – many a neighborhood has been torn apart by neighbor disputes over where to put a fence.
When you put up a fence, check first to make sure that it is actually on your property line. You can find the property line with certainty by hiring a surveyor to tell you the exact boundary. If you choose not to spend the money, ask your neighbors to agree to the boundary before putting up the fence. If it turns out that you’ve mistakenly put up the fence on your neighbor’s property, your neighbor can go to court to force you to take it down and also charge you for the damage to his lawn. If, on the other hand, your neighbor is the one who puts up a fence on what you think is your property, it’s unpleasant but you have to tell him to take it down within a certain amount of time, generally 15 years, or the law will say that land has become his.
The bottom line is that to avoid court and the newspaper, be a good neighbor and talk to your neighbor before putting up the fence.