Out in the country farmers do not put their fences on their property lines, because most farm fences surround pastures, and farmers prefer to walk around the outside of their fences, and not inside their pastures. And in the country it is easier to identify who installed the fence.
The provenance or ownership of the fence is important, because in order to claim that a fence line has become a property line through adverse possession, the adverse claimant has to prove that he or she installed the fence to mark the boundary of their property.
Things are different in the city. In a City like Annapolis, many fences have been in place for many decades, so fences often are assumed to be property lines.
Possession is nine points of the law. In olden times, in order to win a property case the claimant had to prove and win 12 points of law, and possession was 9 out of 12. So if a person has possessed land to a fence line for more than 20 years in Maryland, oftentimes that possession will become title ownership, unless the owner of the fence and the disputed strip of land can prove that the fence was built where it was for a reason and not to mark a boundary line.
This means that it is very important to know exactly where your boundary lines are. Don’t assume that a fence line is the boundary line. Spend the money to protect your property rights and get a field located boundary survey and have your corner points set with survey marker pipes. Your House Location Survey used for settlements should not be used to establish boundary lines, and that is clearly stated on the survey. Allowing your neighbor’s fence to encroach on your lot for more than 20 years may result in a loss of part of your lot.
If you are dealing with a property or real estate issue, one of our Annapolis attorneys can assist you in discerning your rights. Call our Annapolis law firm at (410) 263-3131.