Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

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Latest post 06-06-2006 3:08 PM by jewels03. 6 replies.
  • 06-05-2006 10:14 PM

    • jewels03
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    Question [=?] Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    First, please let me apologize if this is a long post.

    I am trying to help my husbands parents. They own a large farm (150+ acres) in PA and one of their neighbors has been encroaching on it for a long time now.

    According to my father-in-law, they have had it surveyed before and this neighbor has pulled out the stakes and moved anyway. Also, he said she has cut down timber as well.

    He tells me they have taken legal action in the form of a waiver/attachment on the deed for the property, whatever that is, and now they don't know if the waiver is there because the lawyer they had at the time says she doesn't recall ever doing this for him.

    The bottom line is they don't have the money to get an attorney, so I am trying to find out as much information as I can to help them.

    Could we just get another surveyor to tell us where the lines are and then tell her to get off the property?

    There is a large company that wants his land and he says this woman has agreed to run him off for a price (this is what he says).

    Can anyone give me a direction to take, somewhere to start?

    Thanks so much!
  • 06-05-2006 11:22 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
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    re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    If somebody cuts down your timber thats theft and you pretty much go after them on that basis. The essential fact is that it be growing onyour land.

    Adverse possession is a very tricky subject, and in general its quite hard to prevail against the true original owner unless that owner is asleep at the switch for decades in PA. (Your inlaws may have been asleep?)

    I have no clue what a waiver/attachment is in PA

    Most good surveyors keep good paper records as well so merely pulling a few surveyors stakes does not change the legal lines--it sure muddies up the place thats true. In some states it s illegal to pull stakes--but I don't know in PA.

    1. But bottomline your in laws need to be much more assertive about thier property lines
    2. Assertive about filing theft charges for any ttimbering done on thier lands w/o permission
    3. Assetive about posting and giving notice as to no trespassing and following up with criminal and civil complaints against respassers.

    If ther eis a bonafide difference of professional opinion about where a property line is--that is a matter to duke out in the courts!

    They do not have the money to NOT get a lawyer--if they fail to assertively defend their lands its much more costly to recover them later. True, they can get very very assertive in physical recovery of thier lands but they need to be careful not to cross the line into assualt and battery. Its possible that they can barter with a friend with heavy equipement to heavily plow /cut/bank thier land right up to the supposed real propertly line the fence it and post it . I had a PA friend who did just that --rolled in with heavy equipment and recovered his lands with a quick shock-- but he laid out his battle plan with counsel first and he knew which lines not to cross as well..



  • 06-05-2006 11:58 PM In reply to

    • jewels03
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    • PA
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    Question [=?] re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    So it could be just as easy as either having a prior surveyor re-evaluate, or have a new survey done...and then just assert the property line. Once the line is established then:

    1. Post no trespass signs
    2. Possibly put up a fence or wall
    3. Act on any timber removed illegally
    4. Call the sheriff when they trespass and/or try to remove trees

    According to my mother in law, the woman who is doing this apparently pulled out the survey stakes as soon as they were put in, and right in front of my in-laws. (They of course cannot prove that now) so I don't think there is any question that this woman is trespassing and has indeed removed trees from their property.

    So would it be wise to talk to a lawyer first or get a surveyor out there?

    Thanks for all of your suggestions!
  • 06-06-2006 8:09 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
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    re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    My first stop would be a skilled PA Real estate lawyer with a litigation practice not just somebody who handles routine closings etc.

    I think you would be wasting your money to resurvey it first--for a lot of reasons.

    On my first visit to the lawyer I would take copies of ALL relevant deeds, ALL available past survey plots, recent pictures of the site in question so that the person has a first hand view of some of the issues etc--multiple sets of copies! . You don't want to send an attorney out at $200/hr to run a scavanger hunt just to figure out if there is a viable issue.

    And shop carefully for that attorney--you want somebody with a track record of fighting and winning such disputes in court--ASK ABOUT!

    There is no doubt where this one can go--so plan ahed!



  • 06-06-2006 10:10 AM In reply to

    re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    I agree, speak to an attorney first. Assuming the surveyor filed the survey with the county, all of the documents mentioned above are public record and available to anyone at your county administration building, or sometimes your city building.

    It is illegal in EVERY state to remove boundary monumentation set by a licensed surveyor, unless she is the one who paid for the survey. If your parents paid for the survey, it was illegal, but as you mentioned, it would be their word against hers in court, which generally isn't enough proof, unless she confesses.
  • 06-06-2006 12:11 PM In reply to

    re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    When you say “…pulled out the survey stakes as soon as they were put in…”, do you mean the wooden lath (1-1/2” wide strips of wood 2 to 4’ long)? Or do you mean the capped rebar that would have been set in PA?

    Often, when asked to do so, a surveyor will set lath along the property line so it is clear where the line is. However, a good surveyor would also have set a piece of rebar (usually 5/8” x2’) in the ground so the top is flush with the surface. The surveyor then marks the rebar with a plastic cap stamped with their license number. I can tell you that these monuments are very difficult to get out of the ground by hand!

    As Jeeper and Drew suggest, you really need to hire a good attorney. Good attorneys (like good surveyors) are not cheap, but NOT hiring one (like not hiring a surveyor) can be even more expensive.
  • 06-06-2006 3:08 PM In reply to

    • jewels03
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    • PA
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    Ok [+0+] re: Crossing over property lines, changing landscape

    Thank you all so much for all of your advice. I had also contacted the state legislators that represent my husband's parents and they have also given me good advice and referred me to a several lawyers. I think we are going to start with the Recorder of Deeds and get another copy of the deed (along with this mystery attachment my father-in-law keeps mentioning) and go from there. This way, if we do need another survey, we can get the Sheriff's office along for the ride in case this woman decides to try it again.

    I appreciate all the help, and I know that my mother and father-in-law will also be very grateful for the help!

    THanks!
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