Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

There has been an established property line for 70 years on our lot. There is a surveyors post on the hill above our lot. One day fence posts appeared 10 feet onto our property. Chain link fence was on the posts on the other sides of the adjoining property but not on our property line. We have called the owner of the adjoining property asking for the contact information of the company that surveyed but have gotten no answer. We assume the new survey was done by sattelite and cane up with a new boundary. Can new technology change an established boundary?

Asked on 7/28/17, 7:48 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

The starting point for resolving property-line disputes between adjoining landowners is to see what the recorded instruments at the county recorder's office will tell us. If there is a reasonably clear description of the parcel(s) using metes-and-bounds description or using readily-identifiable landmarks such as the center line of Alder Creek or the intersection of Main and Taylor, the deed description will prevail despite the owners' grandfathers having built a fence 70 years ago where they thought the property line was. In this situation, the property line is where the deed says it is, and the only likely remaining issue will be whether X's survey is more accurate than Y's. In other words, the new technology doesn't change the boundary; it merely allows the parties to figure out where it always was. Now, having said all this, let me hasten to add that there are situations where the grandfathers' agreement about where the property line was and is will actually establish that fact. In law, this is called the "agreed boundary doctrine," and it comes into play when there was true uncertainty about the legal location of a property line, including there being no clear record in deeds or other instruments recorded with the county. This is rather unusual, but the law does allow neighbors to set a boundary by mutual agreement (oral, written or by practice, such as building a fence) when there is truly insufficient recorded guidance for them to figure it out from the deeds, etc. It may be that there were no recorded deed(s), or the description of the boundaries in the deed(s) is too fuzzy to be useful.

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Answered on 7/29/17, 11:48 am

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