This post was inspired by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP & Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist hosting and Active Rain Challenge.
While fences encroaching on neighbor's property can pose a need for concern, just how prevalent of a concern (or a problem) is this? In my experience, a small number of home sellers actually face this problem, and thus relatively few buyers need to deal with it.
Over the past 27 years, I've encountered a total of 3 or 4 encroachment issues. They've generally entailed that a fence was not fully installed over the homeowner’s land, but rather it was partially placed on the neighboring land. When neighbors get along and are reasonable, this is a non-issue and can be resolved amicably when and if the need arises. Customarily, that need arises (and can become an issue) when a homeowner is ready to sell, or the property is already in escrow. For example, let's say that the buyer and seller have agreed to a price, terms and other purchase and sale contract details. Perhaps an encroachment was disclosed up front by the seller - best case scenario, but what if the encroachment is discovered during the buyer's investigation period, or by the title company? Then what is one to do?
In my experience, I find that a line survey should be done to determine where the encroachment is if one exists. Once that is determined, a number of options are available.
Generally speaking, it is an easy fix. One option is to move the fence where the line survey indicates. Needless to say, there has to first be an amicable discussion between the parties as to how to go about this. Nothing comes free, after all! Which brings us to the next alternative of leaving things as they are. The third option is to grant an easement to the neighbor that is encroaching on the property with the fence. Some buyers will deal with this after the close of escrow so as not to affect the loan or start a confrontational approach with their new neighbor.
Twenty some odd years ago, I had a client who was very self-centered and aggressive by nature. To give you some background, the majority of our phone calls were ‘one-sided' with him barraging me with conversation for five to ten minutes. Once he finished, he would simply hang up the phone. This same client was an all-cash buyer who I represented when he bought a moderate fixer house in the affluent community known as Pacific Palisades. The seller was an ambassador from a country outside of the United States and had owned the home for approximately 12 years. At the time the house was listed for sale, his relatives were living in the house and neither the seller nor his relatives had any concerns with the encroachment of the neighbor’s fence on their property.
Naturally, my client hired a surveyor during the investigation period and received confirmation that the neighbor’s fence was indeed encroaching on his future property. He had a few "meetings" with said neighbor, who happened to be a stoic Buddhist. Needless to say, they could not come to terms.
I suggested to my client that he offer an easement to the neighbor, but he did not want to hear it. Unbeknownst to me, two days before he was set to wire the remaining funds into Escrow, my client went to Home Depot and hired three or four men who were outside looking to make some extra cash. They loaded into my client's SUV and off they all went straight to the property and ripped the fence down. After the fact, I learned that the Pacific Palisades Police were called to the scene but by the time they arrived, the fence was down. My client showed the line survey to the police and told them that he was within his rights since he did not ask the neighbor to either pay for the removal or the repair of the fence. (You have probably gathered by this point that my client cared nothing about amicable discussions or avoiding confrontational approaches.)
After all of this, there was a follow up meeting in the conference room of the Listing Brokerage with me, my broker and my buyer. In no uncertain terms, the brokers let him know what a poor decision this antic was on his part. They asked him to put up a new fence between the two properties and he refused. Ultimately, both Brokers offered him a financial remuneration from the entire commission to cover a new fence. He then agreed to construct a new fence. To be clear, I was not in favor of this solution, but I was not going to go against the decision of the two managing Brokers. Hence, I received a discounted commission when the transaction closed.
My take is, this did not need to go to this extreme. Ironically, my client ended up fixing and flipping the house. I did not get the listing to sell it. There are times in real estate when you are grateful that you did not get a repeat client. Clearly, this was the case here!
Wishing you a safe and healthy life and I look forward to your comments. If you are looking for a knowledgeable, focused and goal-oriented Realtor in the Beverly Hills area who will help you achieve your Real Estate goals, please reach out to me directly! If you are looking for a pet friendly Beverly Hills Realtor who can handle and sell the most difficult properties that no one else could, please reach out to me directly!! If you are considering buying or selling a home, a luxury home, luxury investment real estate, luxury vacation homes, or luxury beach properties in Southern California, Los Angeles, Century City, Westwood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Marina Del Rey, Venice or Malibu, feel free to contact me at 310.486.1002 ( m) firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of my websites at https://www.endrebarath.com I contribute a portion of my commission to local animal rescue organizations. Endre Barath, Jr. Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties DRE#01238708
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