What to do if someone claims that my home is encroached on their property?

Asked by Amiee, Waldorf, MD Wed Apr 30, 2008

I've resorted to short sale my home as a last desparate step from foreclosure. We are close to having an actual sale until I received a phone call from the original owner of my next door neighbor. He states that the dwelling of my home has encroached his property by 2 feet. This was a survey that was done nearly 20 years ago. He also provided proof through his lawyer that this is true. What do I do? How do I handle this? Who's accountable for this? I had purchased title insurance and they are saying that there's nothing they can do about this. My current lender is currently helping us to sell the home and are nearly 2 steps from making this happen. I don't have any money or compensation for this claim?

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Duncan Hare, , Orange County, CA
Thu May 1, 2008
When you bought your property, you probably had a mortgage. If so you probably bough title insurance that covered encroachments by you or by others. Your neighbors who claim encroachment also probably have similar title insurance.

You can find who the title company was by checking the deed when the property was bough, the deed will tell you who (typically the title company) recorded the deed, and hence which title company issued the tile policy.

This will cost you nothing. The title insurance should cover encroachments.

Good luck.
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Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Thu May 1, 2008
A few points that might help you.
If you do not have money I would look up free legal aid (see link below - ask the attorney's office for a referral).
Second, it is not unusual for claims like this to come up when a property is being sold. Let's just say that some people "coincidentally" find out that you "have to sell" and take the opportunity to "help themselves" to some cash (just my opinion).

Third, you need to discuss your situation with an attorney. If someone has occupied (trespassed) or openly used someone else's property for a period of time, and no one says anything, then the case can be made that the user has the right to use the property. I do not know the details, and you do not need to give them here. My point is that, as crazy as it may sound, you might be able to get away with it.

The other side of the coin is that if in fact a previous owner built the home and two feet is on your neighbor's property, you may have a real problem. We had a case in my home town in which the new owner had to remove the affected portion of his property AND comply with the setback ordinance.

Set back is the distance from the wall of your house, to your neighbors property. For example, in my town, the edge of the house needs to be 3' from the property line. So it my house was two feet over the property line, then I might have to trim 5 feet off my house. Theoretically the city building inspector would not have approved the building permit for a property that encroached on the neighbor's land, so it sounds as though there might be more going on here that meets the eye.

A trip down to the local Deparment of Building and Safety might be in order. Ask for the building permits for your house and take them to the attorney.

Good luck
0 votes
Amiee, Home Seller, Waldorf, MD
Wed Apr 30, 2008
I purchased this home in 2004 not knowing that my very first home was encroaching my neighbor's property. This was not communicated nor was this information rendered to me at the time I settled and bought my home. I'm not quite sure what this neighbor wants and will attempt to talk to the lawyer tomorrow. Am I liable? Can this prevent me from selling my home? I'm afraid this will lead to foreclosure if this is not settled. If this neighbor is wanting monetary compensation, I don't have it- which is the reason why I've resorted to foresale the home. Is a real estate attorney expensive? What if I don't have the money to hire an attorney?
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Bill Wootan's…, , Waldorf, MD
Wed Apr 30, 2008
If you purchansed title insurance, that is what it is for - get to that real estate attorney that is with the title company you closed with -

Good Luck!

Web Reference:  http://www.billwootan.com
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Ramiro Garcia, , Grants Park, Atlanta, GA
Wed Apr 30, 2008
Certainly need to talk to an attorney about this. If it's been 20 years.... have you know about it all this time? Did he? If you did not know didn't either (or didn't mention it), you might be able to claim adverse posession. That's why you need to check with a real estate attorney in your state to advise on this.

Talk to your neighbor... are they opposed to giving up the 2ft? Does this impact them negatively? Talk to an attorney ASAP. You want to avoid any lawsuites if possible... from either direction. Hope this helps.
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