How to Amend Property Lines

A fence may not mark the true property line.

On occasion, you may wish to amend or straighten a property line. You may have mistakenly planted your hedgerow over the neighbor's property line, or a fence may have been constructed a couple of feet off of the line and you now wish for the fence to mark the boundary between the two properties. Changing property boundary lines may not always be easy or possible, but if you are determined and put forth the effort, you may successfully achieve your goal.

Step 1

Talk to your neighbor to see if she will allow you to purchase enough additional property to move the boundary line to the desired location. You may be surprised to find that she is willing to do so, especially if you are already encroaching onto her property with a hedgerow or driveway. In order to move the boundary line, however, you may have to expend the money necessary to hire a surveyor to mark and describe the area being purchased.

Step 2

Enter into a boundary line agreement. Boundary line agreements are used to resolve issues when there is some uncertainty as to where the actual boundaries of the property are located. A boundary line agreement will be signed by both property owners stating where the boundary line will be from the date of the signing of the agreement forward. The agreement should also contain quitclaim language stating that you are conveying everything on the neighbor's side of the line to him and vice versa. This will assure that there is no mistaking who owns property on either side of the line.

Step 3

File a court action to establish the property boundaries. If you discover that a portion of your fenced yard is actually outside of your property boundary and you have been using that portion for many, many years, thinking that it was yours, you may need to seek relief in court. If your neighbor belligerently demands the property back, a court action may be your only hope of a resolution. The court will look at all issues involved, including who may be paying taxes on the land and your continued use of the property, before making a decision. State laws may differ as to adverse possession or boundary line lawsuits, so seek the advice of an attorney before initiating this course of action. The attorney should be able to advise you regarding your chances of a favorable court ruling.

Step 4

Petition your local government to vacate an adjoining alleyway. This action may be necessary if you wish to amend your property line to take in an old alleyway that is abandoned and no longer being used. Depending on local laws, either all or a majority of the property owners adjoining the alleyway will have to join in the petition. Generally, upon successful vacation of the alleyway, one half of the adjoining alleyway will become your property and one half will be given to your neighbor who adjoins the alleyway on the opposite side.

Tip

Have a surveyor confirm the property line before initiating any action to revise or amend its location.

Warning

Before revising property lines within a platted subdivision or governmental jurisdiction which is subject to subdivision regulations, check with your owner's association or local planning commission to assure that you are not violating restrictions or regulations.

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