1. Archive

Closing the gate on disputes over fences

As a professional surveyor for 16 years, I want you to know you are 100 percent correct that a survey by a licensed surveyor is not always accurate. I work for a large firm, and we get assignments of many different kinds. The worst are the fence boundary disputes. Even when a fence has been in place for many years, it does not always show the true legal boundary between two parcels. Also, just because one owner has a survey doesn't mean it is accurate. Surveyors make mistakes. Some are downright incompetent.

Thank you for sharing your expert information. I've often suggested that when a neighbor says he or she has a professional survey, the adjoining neighbor obtain his or her own survey from another surveyor to verify accuracy.

"Your' fence is "his'

The house in behind mine was recently sold. My new neighbor informed me that "my fence" is about 2 feet on his side of the true boundary, and he wants me to pay to have it moved. That fence has been there as long as I owned my home. He claims his survey shows my fence is on his property. Do I have to pay to move it?

No. Whether you or a previous owner of your home built the fence on the neighbor's lot (presuming the survey is accurate), you have no legal obligation to pay for its removal. There is a very logical reason. Because the fence is on the neighbor's lot, that fence belongs to the neighbor. It's his to tear down at his expense.

Clearing lien from title

In 2001 I paid off a Small Business Administration loan secured by my home. Since then, I have been trying to get the county assessor and the tax collector to clear my title of this lien. But no written confirmation of my request to release this lien has ever been sent to me, although I have written several times. What should I do?

No wonder you haven't received a reply. You're asking the wrong person. Only your mortgage lender can clear your title of that SBA mortgage lien. The county (or city) recorder of deeds just records documents presented for recording. The tax assessor and tax collector have nothing to do with clearing your title when you pay off a secured mortgage. You should be contacting the lender of the SBA mortgage you paid off in 2001. It is the lender's responsibility to record, or at least deliver to you for recording, a deed of reconveyance or a satisfaction of mortgage. Have you checked the title to your property recently? Perhaps the lender has already recorded the document to clear the SBA lien from your property.

You can send e-mail to Robert J. Bruss by visiting his Web site, Click on "Ask Bob a Real Estate Question." Or write to Robert J. Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010.