Disputes over the location of property lines and fence lines arise frequently. Our firm has dealt with a huge variety of these matters. To name a few; driveways that encroach over a property line, houses that actually encroach across a property line, trees overhanging a neighbor’s property that have caused damage, and the most common of all are situations involve fences that are built off the actual surveyed property line.
The Ritchie, Rock, McBride & Atwood Law Firm has over 25 years of experience in dealing with property line disputes and fence line disputes.
Adverse Possession is a body of law by which a person can actually obtain ownership of an adjoining property to which they have no deed but have possessed for an extended period of time. The elements of an “Adverse Possession” claim are generally stated as: Possession of another’s property which is open, notorious, continuous, exclusive, hostile, under claim of right for 15 years or more. Insofar as the time period of the possession is concerned the principle of “Tacking” comes into play. “Tacking” refers to the fact that multiple possessors’ time periods of possession can be added together to satisfy the 15 year statutory time period.
Defenses to an adverse possession claim are most frequently that the possession has not been exclusive, or that the possession has been by permission, or that there has been an interruption in the time period of possession.
Boundary by Acquiescence
Another type of dispute involving property lines arises under a theory of law called “Boundary by Acquiescence”. This kind of claim involves a situation in which neighbors treat a boundary feature as if it is the property line for an extended period of time although it is not really the surveyed boundary line. It is most frequently seen in fence situations. Neighbors may decide to build a fence at a particular location without doing a survey to find the exact property line. Then, for an extended time they conduct themselves as if they have agreed that it is the property line. One neighbor typically sells the property to another person and years later the unknowing buyer learns that the fence is over on his property by several feet. The other neighbor may refuse to move the fence and claim that it has become the property line under this legal theory of “Boundary by Acquiescence”.
Easements by Perscription/Easements Implication
“Easement by Perscription” cases typically involve roads or utility lines. In these instances a neighbor has used a roadway which crosses another person’s property in order to access his or her property. The property the roadway or driveway is actually located on belongs to another person. At some point in time, perhaps after property sells, the owner of the property with the roadway on it attempts to shut out the other owner from using the road. These cases are very similar to an “Adverse Possession” claim discussed previously but have subtle differences resulting in an easement for ingress and egress rather than actual legal title to property.
“Easement by Implication” cases arise in situations where the circumstances involving the sale of property imply that an easement was granted across adjoining property although it was not reduced to writing in an easement agreement. The typical case involves a person owning a larger tract of land selling off a smaller tract of land that cannot be reasonably accessed without traveling across the neighbor’s property.
Firm’s Primary Geographic Practice Area for Property Line Disputes
Mayes County, Oklahoma; Rogers County, Oklahoma, Wagoner County, Oklahoma; Delaware County, Oklahoma; Craig County, Oklahoma; Tulsa County, Oklahoma; Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma