The fence was here when I bought. My neighbour bought just after me. We haven’t been here a year yet. She just had her property surveyed and the fence is inside my property line. My property actually continues another 2 feet on the other side of the fence. I want to maintain it and keep things from growing up the fence on that side but my neighbour is being difficult

  • This is called “eminent domain” in the U.S. If your neighbor uses the property without you notifying him of your legal right, he can have the government “take” your property and you will not be allowed to use it. However, you may still pay the taxes. The property is not deeded to him, just the use.
    – Lee Sam
    Jul 21, 2021 at 16:53
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    Would also need to go over your deed to the land and see if there was a reason for putting the fence there, easements or the like. Might be a good idea to have your land surveyed also or see if it was surveyed in the past to find where your lines are exactly.
    – crip659
    Jul 21, 2021 at 17:08
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    The one you want to avoid is "adverse possession", but that takes 20 years to take effect, and would be if you treated your fence as the boundary (and various other conditions) while your neighbor used your land. I agree that so long as you stay on your own property there's no way for your neighbor to deny you access, and that may require a gate if you have no other way to get to that strip. If you can walk in from a public street or alley, no need for a gate - it's your property, do as you like.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 21, 2021 at 17:18
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    @LeeSam you're thinking of "adverse possession". "Eminent domain" requires they formally make an offer to buy it, and then, compel the sale because they are a special class of people who can do that. Adverse possession is "I've been blatantly using it for 30 years and you didn't stop me so now it's mine". Jul 21, 2021 at 19:34
  • In what way does your neighbor want the 2' strip on her side of the current fence maintained differently from you? What kind of fence is this?
    – Jim Stewart
    Jul 21, 2021 at 21:52

3 Answers 3


It's YOUR fence

Since your fence is entirely on your property, it is definitely your fence. There's no question of that. It's not a joint fence. It's yours.

Remove the fence!

Since the fence impedes your access to your own land, simply remove it.

Now, your neighbor isn't going to be happy at all about that. Your neighbor gets a lot of benefit from your fence, not least, use of your 2 feet of property.

Your neighbor will, at that point, be at liberty to install their own fence, on their own property, at their own expense.

More realistically, the neighbor may decide to "sober up" and actually work with you about realistic alternatives. They may also go crazy and get malicious - but you don't owe them a fence.

I would store the removed fence parts on your property for awhile, so that you have the option to reinstall it if negotiations go well. Either that, or destroy it or haul it away. Do not set it out on the curb for trash pickup, or the neighbor will take it and have a free fence!

  • I can access this strip from my own property. I ran a line from the survey stakes all the way up and she removed it. The line makes sure I stay in my side so I am not sure what her point was. She is not the type of person you can talk to, I already received a letter from her lawyer demanding I take down No Trespassing signs that are on MY property. 😂
    – Nats
    Jul 21, 2021 at 19:52
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    It seems the neighbor just finds this all very o-fence-ive. I like the "remove the fence and see what happens" method - works great unless you have a real need for the fence (animals or small children). But a letter to take down No Trespassing signs? That makes no sense whatsoever. Either she has too much time on her hands and this is her entertainment, or she has a lawyer friend willing to write these letters for free. Or both. Jul 21, 2021 at 20:02
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    Before it goes any further, would have your land survey, if one fence was off, others might be also. Surveyors can make mistakes like any of us, but two same surveys should be enough proof of where line is. Check for easements or other things affecting position of fence before moving it over, but removing it is up to you
    – crip659
    Jul 21, 2021 at 20:50
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    If you take down the fence, do it carefully and save it. You could then offer to sell it to your neighbor if she misses it. Give her a good price; your neighbor, after all!
    – Willk
    Jul 21, 2021 at 21:18
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    The lawyer is actually a huge vulnerability. It is an opportunity for you to create complications and obfuscations and run up the neighbor's legal bill to the extreme. Certainly the moment a person's lawyer contacts you, you should make all further communications through that lawyer. Jul 21, 2021 at 23:37

Your neighbor can restrict your access to her property, but that's about it. So long as you're able to access the 2-foot wide strip from your own land or from public land, your neighbor has no means to restrict you from accessing your own property. The only way this could work for her is if that strip of land is only accessible from her property (like if the strip was bordered by the fence on one side and her property on the other three) - she could potentially deny you the ability to walk across her land to access the strip.

Your neighbor can only control access to her own land, but not your land or public land. So long as you're not setting foot on her land, she has no authority to deny you access to land she does not own.


Your neighbor, if the fence is in place for a sufficiently long period of time, could claim title to the land on their side of the fence under the doctrine of adverse possession.

Generally speaking, to establish an adverse possession claim one must show that for a period of ten years prior to the present (tacking time periods of prior owners of the respective properties), the person claiming title by adverse possession:

  • had actual possession of the property in issue;

  • intended to exclude the true owner from possession of his property; and

  • effectively excluded the true owner from possession of his property.

(Source, citing the Ontario Superior Court case of Jamnisek v. The Estate of Gordan A. Wyant which is factually similar to the OP.)

If the conditions for adverse possession have not been established, however, you can tear down your own fence (or put a gate in it) and use that property. Indeed, you should do so on a regular basis, and document your doing so, to prevent an adverse possession claim from ripening if you don't move your fence.

I am currently litigating, and have litigated in the past, similar claims under Colorado law.

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