I recently purchaced a home. Between my fence and my rear neighbor's fence is an open strip of land approximately 18 inches wide. Since it is between both fences, no one is maintaining the land and there is no access point (i.e.: gate) to get to it. The neighbor's fence is a 8 ft. privacy fence, and mine is a 4 ft. chain-link. To cover the overgrowth of weeds, I placed rocks from my yard in the space. The neighbor has since said that it is his property and that I need to remove the rocks. Since he has all but abandoned the space by making it inaccessible to himself, does he still claim to the space provided fell within his property boundary prior to him constructing the fence?
1 Answer from Attorneys
It remains his space unless you could demonstrate that the prior owners of your property, for at least 20 years, occupied the space openly, meaning they used it for their own purposes. This would set up a claim of adverse possession of the strip. From the facts you presented, it doesn't sound like this is what has taken place. You should check the survey that was performed at the time you took title to your property to see if your lot line is where your fence is or beyond it into the "disputed" space. Assuming the neighbor is correct as to the lot line, see if you can negotiate an agreement to allow you to keep your rocks there or otherwise maintain the strip for the purpose of the aethestics, with the understanding that you are not making a claim of ownership. Since he has nothing to lose from this, it would be unreasonable for him not to agree.