What happens when neighbor builds fence on your lot?

DEAR BOB: We live about 50 percent of the year in ourFlorida house and the remainder of the year in our other home “upNorth.” This past winter, when we returned to our Florida home, we wereshocked to discover our neighbor had built a very ugly concrete block fencebetween our properties. At first glance, it looked to me like he tried to”grab” at least 5 feet of our lot. Although I didn’t say anything tohim, I hired a professional surveyor to determine where the lot line islocated. It turned out the neighbor took almost 7 feet along our lot line. Inother words, the concrete block fence is 7 feet on my side of the boundary.When I confronted him with a copy of my survey, he challenged it as probablyinaccurate. What recourse do I have? –Ryan R.

DEAR RYAN: Please consult a local real estate attorney. Heor she can review the facts and advise your best course of legal action.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

From your description, it appears the neighbor built the newconcrete block fence on your property. That means the fence belongs to you andyou can remove it.

In addition, you might be entitled to damages, such as thecost of demolishing that fence, removing the debris, and restoring yourproperty to the pre-fence condition.

ARE POST-MORTEM DEEDS VALID?

DEAR BOB: My parents own a summer and winter home. Theyrecently went to their longtime family attorney to discuss their wills and howto avoid probate costs and delays. I had suggested a living trust to them, asyou often recommend. Instead, their attorney updated their wills and had themsign quitclaim deeds to their properties. He said after they die, he will havethese deeds recorded to transfer title without probate. Is this legal? –DurkR.

DEAR DURK: As an attorney, I am not comfortable with suchpost-mortem deeds for many reasons. The general rule is a deed can effectivelyconvey title only while the grantor is alive. But some attorneys recommendpost-mortem deeds as an alternative to probate. As long as nobody objects, suchdeeds are probably effective.

CHANGING CONDO DOCUMENTS CAN BE A BIG HASSLE

DEAR BOB: I own a condominium where the annual membershipmeeting is held each February. The condo is in Michigan, but perhaps 50 percentof our condo owners spend the winters in Arizona, Florida or Texas. The resultis few members are in town to attend the annual meeting where important mattersare often decided. Although there are always plenty of proxy votes, I feel itis dishonest to have the annual meeting when few condo owners are present. Whatcan we do? –Nathan R.

DEAR NATHAN: Your condo homeowner association’s conditions,covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs), or by-laws, specify when the annualmeeting of the association shall be held. To change the meeting date willrequire a vote of the members. There will probably be legal fees to have thechange prepared. This can be a big hassle, which might be expensive, especiallyif the majority of condo owners are satisfied or just doesn’t care. Unlessthere is a pressing reason to change the annual meeting date, I suggestforgetting the issue.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Obtain theBest Appraisal of Your House or Condo,” is now available for $5 fromRobert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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