What can I do if my next door neighbor has built a fence that clearly encroaches on my property line?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if my next door neighbor has built a fence that clearly encroaches on my property line?

We have purchased a property survey and submitted notice to these neighbors via certified mail. They have responded with a statement that their fence “was constructed as a direct replacement of the existing fence that predated our ownership”. Is there a law on the books that supports this?

Asked on December 10, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There is no law allowing them to encroach on your land, even if they are replacing a fence which predates your ownership: an error, even a long-standing one, does not give them ownership or control over your real estate. If the fence is truly on your land, you can force them to remove it at their own expense.
Of course, if they don't agree that they have to remove the fence, you will have to sue them in county court for a court declaratory judgment (determination) of where the property line is and an injunction (order) requiring its removal. In such a suit, you will have to put actual accredited, expert surveyors on the stand to testify as to the boundaries, how they determined them, etc. If the neighbors have their own surveyors who feel that the fence is on the neighbor's property, they can put their experts up, and the court will determine who is right. This can be a somewhat expensive process, since not only will you need the expert(s) to testify, but you are strongly advised to retain an attorney to represent you (this is much more complex than, say, the typical small claims case) and you'l have to pay those costs yourself (even if you win, you typically do not get them from the other side).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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