We got a letter today saying our backyard is 2 inches over someone's property and they would like to pay for the fence for us.

Asked by cindi247, San Francisco, CA Thu Feb 14, 2013

We bought the house 8 yrs ago. How do we know if our yard is 2 inches over their property? what options do I have? Thanks

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Jed Lane’s answer
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Fri Feb 15, 2013
Two inches!

In SF we usually put fences on the property line so if you use the typical 4 X 4 posts where are they saying the line is. Do the posts encroach completely, start two inches on their property or are they somewhere on the property line?

There are many ways to deal with this. All options are negotiable. You can make them get a survey as suggested. You can go back to your title company for advice. You can allow them to put up a new fence that places the 4 x 4 a little bit closer to your house. You can offer to split the cost of the fence so that you continue to have say in the design and the materials.

I guess I'd ask them why they think this is the case before I did anything. Commonly the fences in a block all line up. You can look at a plat map to see if there are any irregularities.
1 vote
aweb, Home Buyer, Mountain View, CA
Tue Feb 26, 2013
Is the fence a bit old? It's possible they are looking for an "excuse" to take down the old one and control the look of the replacement. That's the only answer that would make sense to me for such a small distance.
1 vote
David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Thu Feb 14, 2013
2 inches, really? 2 feet maybe, but 2 inches. Wow! OK, I'm over the shock now just like you.

The first thing I would ask them is how they came to that conclusion. If they said they measured it, I would suggest you telling them to get a surveyor out to determine if this is correct or not.

You could also contact your title and escrow company and have the nieghbor do the same. But before you spend any money, I'm assuming there is no fence and since your neighbor has offered to pay for it, it's not the end of the world.

At the end of the day, 2 inches shouldn't hurt either of you. It's more the principal then anything.

Good luck,


David Tapper
Coldwell Banker
1 vote
Gabriel Rojas, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Feb 14, 2013

As other have mentioned here, let your neighbor produce or pay for a survey. If they are willing to pay for a fence then surely they would do their (and as a result your) due diligence. The other issue is whether or not you want a fence if one isn't in place already.

I'm also curious as to whether or not you did a survey when you purchased the home. The potential answers could lie in the documents given to you if you had done one eight years ago when you bought.

Whatever you decide, good luck!
0 votes
Leopold A Ro…, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Feb 14, 2013
Do NOT pay for a survey.

Have your neighbor pay for a survey of his/her parcel, and then discuss the placement of the stakes with the surveyor.

If a fence does not exist, don't put one in.

Real Estate Broker 00849905
Attorney at Law
400 Montgomery 505
San Francisco CA 94104
Office: 415.781.3000
0 votes
Kevin Ho, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Feb 14, 2013
Cindy — you can take a simple approach and measure with tape measures and the like, but there are colleague lawyer friends of mine who make their entire incomes from property line disputes involving, fences, trees and encroachments.

It seems that everyone is getting along and it's okay. But there's a lot of potential risk and issues that may stem from a boundary that is unclear especially when the property changes hands.

The first step I'd suggest is to look at your escrow and title documents to see what's stated there in the legal description. If things between you and your neighbor are good, ask them to do the same with their documents and you can jointly compare notes. If your papers disagree with each other then you may want to look at the City and County Records to see what the property line is. Ultimately you may want to retain a land surveyor to really delineate. Important to note that if there is a defect or conflict it may implicate some error that could and should be remedied that may implicate mortgage and/or title insurance issues. This all matters because you guys might not always be neighbors or friendly neighbors. Better to have certainty.

Let me know if you need references to good property attorneys.
0 votes
Actually the land owner is trying to building 28 houses behind our backyard and they are claiming our yard is 2 inches over their property. What document should I ask them for?
Flag Thu Feb 14, 2013
Margaret Moo…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Thu Feb 14, 2013
Did you have a survey done when you purchased the home?
0 votes
Michael Young, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Feb 14, 2013
You would need to hire a surveyor to map out the legal property lines.
0 votes
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