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Sly_Barker

Property lines, fair use & disturbed property markers

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Good evening,

 

I live in Londonderry, NH.  I have two questions based on things I've heard.  I heard there is a law that allows someone who uses or maintains someone elses land for a period of time to take legal ownership of it. 

 

1) Is this true and if so what are the details??

 

I moved to my home in 2010 and my neighbor has been here since 1993.  In the spring of 2011 I went looking for my property boundries.  I found two markers near the street, both of them were ripped out and just sitting on the ground.  My neighbor told me that he accidentially hit them with his plow truck.  I walked up and down the street, every marker on the street has been hit/disturbed.  It's as small street and I know this guy has been voluntarily maintaining the snow.  I went looking for documentation as to where the property lines are and I found some aerial photos that show his garbage cans and some of his junk is on my land.  I asked him if he knew where the line was and he told me something completely inaccurate, so I know I can't trust the guy.  I don't want to start a feud but I also won't allow this guy to steal my land if it's possible. 

 

2) If there is a law that allows someone else to steal land, I want to know if I should prioritize getting my land surveyed?  If this guy can take legal ownership of my land, I want to do something before it's too late. 

 

I thought to have the local police issue a no trespass order that way if he tries to say he's been using my land he'll be in violation of the no trespass order. 

 

Any ideas or advise is welcome. 

 

Thanks in advance,

 

A concerned NH resident. 

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How about just asking this neighbor to move the trash cans? You can get a survey done but it sounds like no one is 100% sure of the boundaries. No he can't claim land that belongs to you but if it isn't clear that it does belong to you, you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

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I have two questions based on things I've heard.  I heard there is a law. . . .

 

Heard where/from whom?

 

 

 

I heard there is a law that allows someone who uses or maintains someone elses land for a period of time to take legal ownership of it. 

 

1) Is this true and if so what are the details?

 

As phrased, the answer is no, but it sounds like you're talking about adverse possession.  Here's a link to an article that discusses the concept pretty well:  http://nashualaw.blogspot.com/2010/03/adverse-possession-in-new-hampshire.html.  You can also google something like "adverse possession law in new hampshire."

 

 

 

I went looking for documentation as to where the property lines are and I found some aerial photos that show his garbage cans and some of his junk is on my land. 

 

Where exactly did you find these photos, and what makes you think they accurately depict the property line?

 

 

 

I asked him if he knew where the line was and he told me something completely inaccurate, so I know I can't trust the guy.  I don't want to start a feud but I also won't allow this guy to steal my land if it's possible.

 

Slow down there cowboy.  Just because he told you something that conflicts with some photos somewhere doesn't mean he's lying or is otherwise untrustworthy or that he's trying to "steal [your] land."  Perhaps he's simply misinformed.

 

 

 

If there is a law that allows someone else to steal land, I want to know if I should prioritize getting my land surveyed? 

 

Despite your use of a question mark here, this sentence is not a question.  In any event, if this were permitted by a law, it obviously wouldn't be "stealing."  As far as getting a survey done, that's likely the best way to be certain about the property lines.

 

 

 

I thought to have the local police issue a no trespass order that way if he tries to say he's been using my land he'll be in violation of the no trespass order.

 

The police don't issue orders like that.  And, needless to say, if you and your neighbor aren't on the same page about where the property line is, how exactly do you expect the police to know?

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I'd like to think you've come across the term "adverse possession" as it relates to NH. 

The guy isn't in a position to claim adverse possession over plowing, nor placement of "junk" or garbage cans.

 

I don't know of any police departments that are in a position to "issue a no trespass order".

I'd feel free, if you know where the lines are, to ask him to move his "junk" and garbage cans.  Politely.  If he refuses, I'd feel free to involve a real estate attorney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any ideas or advise is welcome.

 

 

 

 

Thanks in advance,

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Heard where/from whom? - A friend who went through this in a neighboring town. 

 

Where exactly did you find these photos, and what makes you think they accurately depict the property line? - A landscaper friend of mine got them from the town.  I don't think they are accurate, but to some extent they do represent my land boundries.  The town clerk had paperwork of when they measured the land for a septic tank some time ago.  The lines were similar on this document and the aerial photo. 

 

it sounds like you're talking about adverse possession. - Yes this is what he called it.  Although it may be legal, it's basically stealing if you knowingly spread out your land to make it bigger at someone else's expense.  My land is mostly wooded, this guy and his kids were riding their quads on it and building forts/playing on it.  Can adverse possession apply in cases like this?? I mentioned to him that I found an aerial photo of the land, and that I intended on having it surveyed and fencing it in.  After that his kids took the fort down and haven't been on the land since.  This is another reason why I'm suspicious of him. He also bragged that he had the biggest piece of land on the block, according to the town the opposite is true, his lot is the smallest.  I wonder if he thought he could get away with claiming adverse possession??

 

"The police don't issue orders like that." - According to the police they do in an unrelated issue.  I caught one of his kids taking things from my back porch.  I caught him, so he put them back.  I called the police to ask about how trespassing works in NH.  The police told me they could issue a no trespassing order and if they trespass after that it would be criminal.  The police said I didn't even need to put signs up, but it would make it easier. 

 

If I was to put signs up in the aproximate location of the property line would that be good enough to avoid losing land via adverse possession? 

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Heard where/from whom? - A friend who went through this in a neighboring town. 

 

Not really a reliable source.  Often, folks will come out on the wrong end of a legal matter and completely misunderstand the reason(s) why.

 

 

 

it sounds like you're talking about adverse possession. - Yes this is what he called it.  Although it may be legal, it's basically stealing if you knowingly spread out your land to make it bigger at someone else's expense. 

 

You can call it "stealing" or whatever you like.  However, if you read the article to which I provided a link, you know that, "[t]o make a claim for adverse possession, the claimant must have acted as if he is the true owner of the property.  The claimant must possess the land to the exclusion of all other uses and he must possess the land conspicuously, that is doing things on the property that would show the world that he owns the property.  Among those things might be building a house, logging, farming, planting a hedge or building a fence."  Another term that is often used when describing the requirements is that the claimant's possession of the property must be "open and notorious."  What it all means is that the only way to acquire property through adverse possession is if the "true owner" is asleep at the wheel.  Anyhoo....

 

 

 

My land is mostly wooded, this guy and his kids were riding their quads on it and building forts/playing on it.  Can adverse possession apply in cases like this?

 

One would have to read some NH case law to know if one can acquire PART of a piece of property through adverse possession.  Typically, it's an all or nothing thing, but I can't speak with authority regarding NH law on the issue.  Simply trespassing on your property would not suffice in any case, and I doubt building a temporary structure (such as a child's "fort") would do the trick either.

 

 

 

If I was to put signs up in the aproximate location of the property line would that be good enough to avoid losing land via adverse possession? 

 

If you read the article to which I linked, you'll know that the answer is no.  All that would do is demonstrate that you know where your boundary line is, which, arguably, could make for a better case by the other guy.

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"I'd feel free to involve a real estate attorney" - My next question was what type of lawyer should I hire if this becomes an issue.  Thanks

 

The answer to your question was in your question.

 

A real estate attorney.

 

Bottom line, though is that, yes, somebody can "acquire" somebody else's land land by adverse possession under the right circumstances, which is not likely to be what's happening here.

 

If you want to protect yourself from that I suggest the following steps:

 

1 - New survey.

2 - Photograph and otherwise document the position of the new stakes immediately.

3 - Immediately put up a fence. Start by imbedding fenceposts in concrete about every 8 or 10 feet to delineate the property lines. Then string barbed wire if you want to go cheap.

4 - Put up the no trespassing signs at frequent intervals. They don't cost much and you can nail them to the fenceposts that you just put up.

5 - Take out a restraining order against the guy if you have to.

6 - Once you have the fence up, throw all his stuff over it to his side.

 

Yes, a fence will cost you money but probably a lot less money than litigation if you don't take the necessary precautions to protect your own land.

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"If you want to protect yourself from that I suggest the following steps:

 

1 - New survey.

2 - Photograph and otherwise document the position of the new stakes immediately.

3 - Immediately put up a fence. Start by imbedding fenceposts in concrete about every 8 or 10 feet to delineate the property lines. Then string barbed wire if you want to go cheap.

4 - Put up the no trespassing signs at frequent intervals. They don't cost much and you can nail them to the fenceposts that you just put up.

5 - Take out a restraining order against the guy if you have to.

6 - Once you have the fence up, throw all his stuff over it to his side.

 

Yes, a fence will cost you money but probably a lot less money than litigation if you don't take the necessary precautions to protect your own land."

 

Thank you Adjusterjack.  I don't understand the lawyer stuff, I really appreciate the lay man's explaination. 

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Thank you Adjusterjack.  I don't understand the lawyer stuff, I really appreciate the lay man's explaination. 

 

 

You're welcome.

 

I do mostly understand the lawyer stuff but I like to give practical suggestions when appropriate.

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