Monday, February 26, 2007

Speaking of property lines...

My father-in-law lives in a small town about 15 mintues drive from where I live. He has lived in that same house since he had it built roughly 20 years ago. Next door lives someone who I will refer to as "Satan"

Satan has lived there as long as my father-in-law. Possibly longer. There has been a long standing dispute about their properly line.

Satan has always insisted the properly line is about 1 foot farther to the right then it really is. Every year for 10 years he paid someone from the local municipality to come out to measure and confirm the "official" location of the properly line.

Every year they put the marking stakes in the same spot. Every year after they left Kenny (I mean Satan) moved the stake one foot to the right.

This continued literally for 10 years. Until last year. That was the year that (as luck would have it) the person the city sent out to make the measurments was a close personal friend of Satan. Lo and behold suddenly the municipality indicates the properly line is mysteriously moved 1 foot to the right. What are the chances?

I should mention this is not some big-city lot, where a single foot can be worth thousands of dollars. This is rural, small-town, population 300. The lots in question are about 90 feet wide already, so 1 foot either way is really meaningless.

Now of course my father-in-law was a bit upset about this sudden change. He knew full well that Satan had been crossing his fingers every year for 10 years hoping and EVENTUALLY the person the municipality would send out would finally be his friend, his ally. So my father-in-law phoned a lawyer the same day (a Friday), and setup a meeting for Monday morning to discuss what his options were.

He woke up at that Saturday morning to discover that Kenny (I mean Satan) had built a fence overnight. He must have started at about 5am in order to finish by dawn. I should mention that Satan has been on government disability pension for the last 20 years but still somehow is able to build a fence or shingle his roof.

Satan building that fence was an attempt to creating "facts on the ground". For 10 years he didn't build a fence, then suddenly the fence appears overnight. The lawyer my father-in-law spoke with told him that he would take the case, but it would end up costing alot of money and would hardly be worth it. He decided not to pursue the case, and has learned to enjoy the fact that his neighbour built a very nice fence and he didn't have to contribute a dime towards the cost.

As for me? I have a big stinky dog. When we are visiting and he "does his business" in my father-in-laws backyard... I pull out the shovel and heave it over the fence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that if your father establishes that he "knew" where the property line is and did nothing to stop the encroachment, then something like squatter's rights will support the neighbor. For his best interest, your father should plead ignorance about all of it, provided it is just a fence. That way, if your father goes to sell (or you end up selling the place), you were not knowledgeable and can't be held responsible for any encroachments that occurred. Let the next guy deal with it. A fence can be ripped out, but if the neighbor constructs a building on the land, you'd have to stop that. I had a neighbor whose pushy neighbor built a shed on the first guy's land. The first guy told the second that if he didn't remove the shed, the first guy would (probably with a saw and sledge hammer, or a bulldozer). The second guy complied.