Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

Ranch fence lines

We own a ranch,7 years ago our neighbor asked us if we could move our fence line so that she can access some of here land more easily which would help her save money working her cattle,In exchange she let us move our fence on another part of the ranch so we could graze more cattle,She was the biggest benificary,which we did not mind.

We did inform her that the land was never going to be forsale,And that if she sold her property or if we had problems with either her or someone that she may sublease to then we would immediatly restore the fence line back to its rightful line.And we also told her that we would continue to pay all the property taxes which we did.

Now she has recently sold her ranch,She did not disclose to the new owners about this agreement nor did she tell us about the sale.

We are currently putting our fences back,My question is Do we have to put the fence line back on the other part of the property that we gained or do we get to keep it do to perscriptive rights?

Asked on 3/29/06, 2:55 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
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Re: Ranch fence lines

Neither neighbor has gained or lost any land by prescription, adverse possession, or anything like that. Your oral agreement amounts to a license, or more accurately an exchange of licenses.

A license is an agreement by which X gives Y some rights in X's land. Licenses don't convey estates, as do deeds or leases; they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from easements; they needn't be in writing, nor is a consideration necessary, as in the case of a contract (however, in your case, there was a consideration - the reciprocal grant). License rights are personal and do not run with the land, as do most easements, and generally licenses are revocable at will.

Since the grant of a license negates the element of "hostility" necessary for adverse possession or prescription, a licensee cannot acquire title, whether or not he pays taxes and meets the other requirements for the same.

In view of the relatively high cost to relocate fences and that the arrangement seemed to work for both under the old ownership, maybe your best bet is to approach the new owners (you ought to try to make them feel welcome and they you're good neighbors, of course!) and explain the whole deal, and offer them the same arrangement....since the licenses don't run with the land, they expired when the old owners sold and left, and the mis-placed fences are technically trespasses until each neighbor gives a new license to the other. Otherwise, the fences should, by rights, go back where they belong. By the way, a re-survey if and when this is done is recommended! With GPS and other modern tools, accurate surveys are quicker and cheaper than they used to be.

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3/30/06, 2:48 am
Michael Olden Law Offices of Michael A. Olden
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Re: Ranch fence lines

there is an old real property saying -- "what is good for the gosse is good for the gooser" -- be viey carfull whith the exact position of the fence -- i would recommend you get a professional to determine the exact location of the boundrys of both properties or you may be in big problems, and the next time you enter into an aggreement about your real property i would consult an attorney as it will be a lot, a real lot, less expensive for you in the long run

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3/29/06, 4:17 pm

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