Sunday, November 15, 2009

Can someone legally claim our land if they fence it in?

We bought 5 acres in Alabama. However, it will be two years before we start building a house as my husband just accepted work overseas. For some reason the people living to the right of us have cleared out almost an entire acre OF OUR LAND with what appears to be the intent to plant vegetation on it. I was told that if they fence that area in after a certain amount of time they can legally claim that land. What steps can I take to ensure this does not happen. Do I send them a copy of the survey of the land? Do I have a lawyer draft a letter? Do I have the sheriff's office contact them? I do want it in writing that they acknowledge that that is NOT their land. And if I want to make the land a "no trespassing area" do I just put up signs or do I need to have that in writing also? I think this is the most ridiculous law I have EVER heard of.

Can someone legally claim our land if they fence it in?
It's called adverse possession. In Alabama, it's covered by Section 6-5-200 of the Alabama Code.

It takes 10 years, and Alabama has strict requirements on what to do if you want to take land by adverse possession. I'd cover myself by chatting with an Alabama attorney. If that doesn't appeal to you, I'd send them a registered letter instructing them to cease and desist any work on my side of the property line.

Getting them to acknowledge a crime (trespassing) is probably not going to happen. Having proof that they were on notice (registered mail receipt and a copy of what you sent them) is the best you're going to do, realistically.

NO TRESPASSING signs just make it painfully obvious that you want someone to keep out. Your mileage may vary on whether those help.
Reply:File an action to remove the fence and claim ownership over the land because if you do not protest such action, prescription might set in and you lose the land by inaction.
Reply:as far as i know, it's not at all legal..:)
Reply:It IS a stupid law. Sounds like a "legal" way to steal what someone else has. They call it "squatters rights" and that SUCKS ! You'd better do SOMETHING. Go plant your own trees. If they have the balls to do that, then you have a problem, especially if they didn't ask you. (ALSO, if they HAVE fenced it in, or if they do in the near future, you still have time to do what you need to do. At least you are aware of the situation.)
Reply:Be neighborly!!!

First consider one of you may be making a mistake. Approach them to let them know your concerns and compare deeds and survey lines. If they are blatantly non-compliant with you, then call the sheriff to start legal action.
Reply:If you have a survey, make sure survey markers are on the land and are visible.

Write them a letter and tell them they cleared your land without your permission.

If they removed anything of value, like trees, file suit for the value of the trees. I am sure that will get their attention.
Reply:get it surveyed and with your survey if you are in the right and they are on your property remove the fence. in some states if a fence has been errected and stands for a certain amount of years uncontested it becomes new property line. and once their fence is removed put up your own fence and mark your property well. and the reason they can claim it with a fence is for upkeep on property and turn in a bill higher then value of property so you wouldnt have a choice either pay or deed over property. but do get it surveyed and make sure it is registered at courthouse.and by the way i would check at courthouse to make sure someone hasnt pulled a fast one on you when you bought property sold it too someone else also . good luck.
Reply:I believe it is 10 years in Florida. Sending them a copy of the survey and that you will be building soon should dissuade them from planting. Be nice, but firm. DO NOT let them temporarily use it, unless you have it in writing with an end date!
Reply:if you challenge it they cannot. If you do nothing after 20 years they can claim it. Have a surveyor mark you land and have the Local authority notify them to remove the fence. This should be more than enough to keep them from claiming it. some states require you to walk around it every few years. Take some photo's and keep up with locals buy getting the local newspaper. be sure to pay your taxes as well.
Reply:I think the best idea is to have a fence of your own put up. Hire someone to put a fence around your property. It doesn't have to be a massive security fence just a simple wire fence. It will define your property and give you a legal leg up if anyone violates it. At this time your neighbors might not know the property is owned by anyone. They may think it's abandoned. A fence will put them on notice that some one is in possession of the property and intends to develop it. Good luck.
Reply:I would get a lawyer involved, as well as the sheriff to address these issues. You need to make it known in court, the county office that deals with property boundaries, as well as the encroachers that where they are treading is not their land. It might be a simple mistake on their part, or a true endeavor to do just as you fear. Do the legal side of this to protect yourself, and make it very clear to them that anything they put on your land will be claimed by you as your property, which you can also do. If they put up fences, get the sheriff involved, and then tear them down, or cite the fences as your property. Whatever you do, do it legally, and in writing. If these people are out to encroach, they might be hoping that you either don't know, or won't put the effort into protecting your land. IF you do nothing, and their improvements do stand, uncontested, then yes, they do win, and you lose. Go get 'em, and protect your property. Go first on the idea that it is an honest mistake, but go with legal backing that they are operating on your land. Remember one thing, "hearsay" is never accepted in court. You need documentation, and that your efforts to stop them was done in court as well.
Reply:Where is this at in USA that can not happen. Your land is yours and any one who trys to take it is stealing. I do not have all the answer, but get over there right away and call the proper authorities and get that title to how much land is yours out now you will need it.Get out the good old tape measure too. Start making a wall around your property and put up no trespassing signs all around the wall. If they grow any thing on your land in USA it is considered yours now and if they try to take it is considered stealing.
Reply:They can only steal it, if you let them. Have a lawyer write them a letter. Be sure all taxes are paid. They can not just all of a sudden, start doing what ever they please on someone Else's property, they need some type legal notice to let them know that your wise to their little sham. Do it now.
Reply:no person cannot claim any ones land by just fencing by the time he or she has legal papers to claim it. you should first try and contact the police and if necessary make a appeal in the court for some solution
Reply:Squatters have rights - heck the USA is built up on squatters rights. Initially they were land claims. Unfortunately for you, different states have different laws, but most of them allow for abandoned property to be cared for - I would get an attorney to help you with this. I think a Real Estate attorney would be a good place to start.

I know where I live, it is as simple as maintaining that bit of land for a certain amount of time - no fence needed. If they start paying tax on that parcel, then forget it.

I wouldn't wait on this and I wouldn't let them plant - that is unless they agree to lease the land from you (which is renting the unimproved area for the purpose of farming) and the lease must have an end date. Could be a good way to make some extra cash to pay for that attorney.

Do NOT let them build - you will just have to tear it down when you are ready to build your home, and who knows what building laws are in place - you may wind up having to build your new home in the same place as their structure. Good luck!
Reply:first check your deed, what the seller told you was yours might not be yours on paper. if it checks out. go to town clerks office, check out any maps on file with your property. also check out your neighbors deed and maps. if it all seems to be in your favor. send a certified letter to your nieghbor detailing porperty lines and requesting they remove fence and leave. next get local authority involved. upto this point should not have cost you alot of money

if this does not work, get an attorney! in time they could claim squatters rights
Reply:if thats true, it dont happen over night.

when you bought the land, didnt you have it surveyed? if so, go to court and get an order to have it removed, then remove it.........

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