HomeBoundary QuestionsClose, but…


Close, but… — 52 Comments

  1. I live in Texas.the house next to me extended the roof line close to the property line.Does the structure include the roof line and how close can it be to the propwrty line.

    • That is a 2-part question.
      1. Yes, the roof counts as part of the structure. The rule of thumb as far as property lines and buildings go is that you cannot drip on your neighbor. You own straight up from your property line, directly opposite to the pull of gravity and parallel with it into the ground. There are exceptions as to violation or trespass when it comes to tunneling and crossing airspace, but that is for people smarter than me to decide.

      2. That depends. How close you can build is a zoning thing and a restrictions thing. When the parcels were created, it is possible that limitations were set on how close you can build to the line and sometimes, what structures can be how close. Zoning does the same thing (usually). Zoning typically sets the minimum front, side, and rear yard size, establishing setbacks. Again, these can be specific to the type of structure (primary or auxiliary) or the height of the structure (one story or two).

      If you would like to know if they are too close to you, you would need to check with zoning and the restrictions on the property. You then go with the stricter of the two. Some zoning ordinances will not trump restrictions as they “grandfather” them in. Also, zoning will typically not enforce private restrictions, for those you will need to check how the homeowners association or the restrictions themselves define how to deal with violations.

      • Hi i hope you can reply to this comment. My problem is that our neighbours stacks Crates Beside our fence wall like literally beside our fence and The problem is that Some people was trying to break in to our Yard using the crates as a ladder, our neighbours stacked Which we witnessed 2 times already.beside our fence is a pathway so their are people who lives Down the pathway. What do you think is the best solution for this? Since our neighbours Do not really care about it.

        • Not sure this is a property issue. If your fence/wall is not on the property line and they are stacking stuff on your property, then you can have them remove the stuff from your property (likely will require a court order). However, if the fence is a line fence, I am not sure what you can do. I would like to think that you can discuss this with them and see if there is a solution to this problem.

          Either way, try to have a conversation with your neighbor. Express your concerns and have some constructive solutions to this problem before you even talk. Remain calm, don’t yell or threaten, advocate for yourself, but don’t be pushy. If it is their property, then you are asking for them to do you a favor. Act like it.

  2. Building a shop on my property it is 2 inside my property line. Is that good since there is a easement or possible future road on the other side of my property line. What if I put a fence on the property line so the building is on my property is this legal?

    • I am assuming you mean “Building a shop on my property it is 2 [feet] inside my property line.”
      I cannot answer that without a lot of research specific to your property. What I would suggest is that you contact the local office that issues building permits to determine what your specific zoning allows. You will also want to consult your restrictions (if any) and see if there are any building setbacks on your land beyond zoning.
      If you have done both and if neither stipulates a building setback, then you should be able to build right up to your property line. The rule of thumb is that you do not drip onto your neighbor. This means that nothing of your structure overhangs across the property line.

  3. Thanks for the reply. I forgot to mention I live in Oklahoma. Also I filed a variance because the city said it was needing to be five feet from the property line and during the nesting no neighbors showed up to include the ones who filed the complaint. Know they are saying that I need to move it 3 feet and then they will give me the variance for 15 since they are know saying it is for a future road between my house and the neighbor. Even though they approved it for 6 feet and a easement not a future road. Thanks

    • If you have an approved variance (approved as in, it went through planning/zoning, was voted on, and passed), then you should have a written record and possible grounds to not move it. This is now a legal matter and you will likely need the advice of a lawyer.

    • Honestly, I have no idea about California law. I would also need to know what you are trying to do that would require you notifying anyone.
      If you are building anything, it is wise to check with your local zoning office. It is likely that they have all the information you need regarding fence type, height, distance off property, etc. We have a couple of municipalities around here that restrict the height of a fence, both in front of and behind the house (two different animals). You may also be restricted by a homeowners’ association…

  4. Since I have my clean title can I make a wall to secure my tenants with family members that stays in my land please reply asap thank you and more power.

    • If I am understanding you correctly, you are wanting to build a wall within your property lines? If this is so, I would guess that you could likely do it, but you need to check on restrictions at your local zoning office. They often have regulations governing the height/style/opacity of fencing.

  5. My neighbors fence encroaches on my property by 3-feet (25-foot length).
    I am in Tennessee. What right do I have to reclaim my property?

    • This is a legal question. In theory, you would own the property and therefore can use it as you see fit. Of course, your neighbor may also have an adverse possession claim, but that must be processed through the courts.

  6. We live in Mineral Co.,W.V. We have usedthe neighbors dirt road to exit from our property to the main hwy.for over 7 yrs. The neighber has only ow ed his property for app.4 years.He removed our roadway to exit that .We dont even have a way in h out for ambulance or firetruck.what can we do?

    • I am not familiar with West Virginia law, but my best guess is that you will need to contact an attorney. Tennessee law is clear on this. If you do not have an easement to cross a property, then the rule for prescriptive rights, the one that “forces” the encumbered landowner to grant an easement, doesn’t typically kick in until 20 years. If your property touches a road, I doubt that you would be granted an easement across another by force, but I can see instances where this may not apply.

      Again, contact an attorney. It shouldn’t cost much to meet and go over your options – much less than building a new drive (although you still may wind up doing that).

  7. My neighbor has put a small checuzzi against the back wall that separateds his and my yard. It’s on a raised platform which allows him or his company a view into my backyard. Please advice.

    • I hate to say it, but build a taller fence or plant tall trees. As far as I know, provided the offending party is within codes, you don’t have a way to control their view. I have never heard of anything that protects your privacy in your back yard. But then again, I am not a lawyer.

  8. Question: I live in Battle Ground Washington and I’m having a hard time finding out or getting a straight answer to the question, which is how far from my neighbor’s property line do I have to be if I’m to add on to this shed of mine? If anyone has the answer, please, please tell me so I can get started on this storage shed so I can clean out my garage to make room for my trike and new car. Thank you.

  9. My neighbor built a add on extension to his home and used my boundry wall as the support for his walls and roof. Can I remove the supports off my wall legally ?

    • There are a whole lot of “depends” in that answer and most will be legal matters that require an attorney (and possibly a court) to decide.

      Let’s start with the “boundary wall.” What I envision is a 5-8 foot cinderblock wall in place of a fence. Then, you say they, “built a add on extension to his home and used my boundry wall as the support for his walls and roof.” I envision this as being they cantilevered over or built directly upon the wall.

      Assuming I am anywhere near correct on these two assumptions, this would imply that the add-on was either right against the property line or really close. I don’t know your zoning (if you even have any), but most have a minimum setback from the property line – especially for primary structures.

      Now, to answer your question. The first thing I would assume you need to do is to establish where that wall is in relation to the property line. Is it on the line or is it entirely on your property? If it is the latter, then you have a stronger case to “remove the supports.” If it is on the boundary, then we are looking at a whole other animal. I am not even certain where you are, but in Tennessee, the location of a fence can change the ownership of said fence (and the responsibilities of maintenance). A “boundary fence” is significantly different than one that is entirely on your property.

      While I really didn’t answer your questions, my recommendation is to determine where the wall is in relation to the property line. Then call codes enforcement and see what the setbacks are. While you have them on the phone, you can see if there were a building permit issues and inspections done for the property (assuming your locations does those things). If you are still in doubt, call an attorney.

      I would caution you though, you have to continue living next to this person. The course of action I laid out may “upset” your neighbor and cause adverse living conditions. You will want to assess if what you get out of this is worth the potential destruction of the neighbor relationship. Having a peaceful, if not friendly, relationship with the neighbors makes a home so much more relaxing.

  10. I bought my house 3 years ago, it was built in 1960. This year, a couple bought the lot behind me and built a brand new house and they have informed me that my old garage hangs 2 feet on their property. Am I protected some how since the structure has been there for so long?

  11. My neighbor and I share a grassy encroachment? between our driveways. I park very close to my property line so my children don’t scratch up my car when they open the side door.
    My neighbor placed concrete blocks on his side of the encroachment with wood beams to extend from concrete block to concrete block. Now, no one can enter into my car on the passenger’s side. Can something be done? KY

    • I don’t know where you are nor am I an attorney to give you advice about legal matters. However, barring any zoning ordinance requiring you to leave a buffer, it would sound like he can put whatever he wants on his property, even if it inconveniences you. If you are hitting his makeshift fence with your car door and this fence is on his side of the line, then you are technically trespassing.

  12. I have an existing chain link fence and several years ago put up a privacy fence, leaving the old chain link fence in place. My neighbor built a chicken coop and has it is butted directly to my privacy fence. The only reason I know this, is because a limb came down and destroyed two of the panels and a post that needs to be replaced. Can I have him move it away a little and keep it away so I can make these repairs?

    • That would depend if this is on his property or not. I don’t believe you have the right to cross onto another’s property without permission or an easement. If the fence is a boundary fence, there may be other rules that apply. You would need a survey and legal advice for that.

  13. I’m in Tennessee. My neihbor hired a surveyor and the surveyor my land.. it’s on the deed the measurements all how does one go from 5 acres to 2 ? I didnt hire him.
    I’ve paid land taxes on this home for 30 years (well my mother until she passed) but the newer deed says refer To THE OLD DEED in BOOK…PAGE.. Now the neighbor are suing me for being on my property.. thisis just not right.. weve always known about where the line was, the neighbors knows that it didnt come way over like that.. that’s half of my property.. I’m furious because this is going to cost me 3000 for a lawyer.. and a boundries dispute in court will take for ever.. I was fixing to start building my home..
    Is there not another way I show that I have proof and then some. I’ve got all I need.. their is greedy people in this world..

    • Unfortunately, if you two cannot come to an agreement, the only way to “prove” ownership is in court. You will likely need to have a survey of your own proving your side of the case. In fact, that may be your first move. You may have a case of adverse possession if you don’t have clear title to the land, but even that requires court. See Adverse Possession

      As for the loss of acreage, it is the lowest of evidence. See Hierarchy of Evidence
      I have seen deeds that claimed 10 acres and the best I could come up with is 1 acre. See senior rights for that. If someone sold off parts of your tract, you are left with what is left, they have senior rights.

  14. Been in Tennessee for almost 2yrs and purchased a new home in a new subdivision. The homes in this subdivision are close, like 15’ in between. My neighbor does not have enough room to accommodate his 5 cars. The concern I have is, I have reason to believe that he is going to build a side driveway and I definitely do not want that to happen. The way the builder positioned our houses is his driveway is on my porch side (dining room); I would like to know is there set back rule for building a driveway up to the property line? If he builds that driveway then that will definitely make my home undesirable when it’s time to sell. Thanks

    • Some counties and municipalities require a landscape buffer for drives and sidewalks. However, they are not as prevalent as those that allow you to build right up to the line. You would need to reach out to Planning and Zoning or Codes Enforcement to see what the regulations are for your location and zone.

  15. My town has a 7.5 setback for corner property. My neighbor, sho has a corner property erected a fence and a raised patio directly to the property line. Shouldn’t she have to move the patio back 7.5 ft

  16. I live in Mount Carmel, Tennessee and we recently bought a 14×32 outbuilding. We placed it 6 feet off of our property line to the back and side of us. Is that within the technical guidelines or are we in the wrong?

    • Nearly every municipality has it’s own guides to how close you can build/place structures. Some allow up to the property line where others require 25′ off. You would need to check with codes enforcement in your area to know for certain.

  17. I live in SC, and my neighbor built a fence which sits back 1′ from the property line. I have a dog and I do not have a fence. The neighbor wants to govern the 1′ of space on our side of the fence. How do I go about this conversation with the neighbor? We are mowing the grass on our side of the fence. She gets upset if my dog approaches the fence. The dog is not vicious, digging, barking etc but she says that 1′ is her property. What should I do? I don’t want to put up a fence and have to try and mow grass in a 2′ space between the fences?

    • I am not licensed in South Carolina, however, I can make some assumptions.

      Typically, you have control of all of your property, fenced or not. If I build a fence 1′ off my property line, I still own that 1′ strip. People do this to keep the neighbors from tying a new fence onto their fence or to be able to work on their fence without trespassing on the neighbor (not that 1′ is wide enough for most people to get there and paint/build). Technically, if you cross onto that strip she owns outside her fence, you are trespassing.

      Assuming there isn’t any rule requiring a fence to be offset from the property, you can likely put your fence exactly on the line (need a survey). You are not responsible for the land between.

      You might consider not maintaining that 1′ area and force her to do so. Perhaps if she is required to do it, she may be more inclined to allow you to be up against her fence. Honestly, it is her land and her fence, she can do with it what she wants (within county/city/state codes). Sorry.

  18. Hi,
    I am wanting to build a block and stone wall, about 6′ tall, with a gate, at the side of my house, around my patio. The back side faces the river. The front is toward the street. I’m in the county, in a rural, small subdivision with few restrictions. The wall would only go around the front and a portion of the side. It will sit 6+ feet from my property line. I have flowering shrubs around the side and maintain to the line, always. I am making it attractive and due to these being large lots, I don’t think there will be any problems with blocking views for anyone near me. I just am not finding the distance required from the property line. Can you help? in Hamilton Co., TN

    • It would likely be classified as a “fence.” They are typically allowed right up to the line. If you are concerned, you should call codes enforcement or the zoning office.

  19. Our new build has just received a stop work order due to the left side not being set back 35 feet from right of way. The contractor has not mentioned anything to us about this. What will have to be done in a situation like this?

    • Well, you can either tear it down and build it to code, or you can try to get a variance. The former would likely fall on the contractor (or the surveyor if the contractor was smart enough to hire one to layout the house), but that is a legal question. The latter is possible, depending on your municipality’s policies and willingness to allow you to have a variance. This will likely depend also on how big of a variance you are looking for. If it is only a foot or two, that may be better than if it is like 15 feet.

      If you need the variance, you just go, hat in hand, and throw yourself on the mercy of the zoning commission.

  20. I live in Carter Co TN. My neighbor and I share property line which happens to be Right of Way granted in my deed and his. My only access to the rear of my property is across that Right of Way. He recently decided he will no longer allow me to access my property and put up barriers. On both of our deeds states “There is also, conveyed to party of the second part, her heirs and successors and assigns rights-of-way for ingress and egress from and to Ollie Collins Road over and across all existing driveways located upon Lot 10 in favor of Lots 9 and 11, as shown on said replat.” I am lot 11. In addition, I have storage bldgs and business equipment I load/unload and store on the back of my property I no longer have access to. Is neighbor allowed to block my rights-of-way access?

    • If you have deeded access, I would think not. This is a legal matter and would fall to an attorney. However, ingress/egress means you can come and go across it. Provided the drive in question existed at the time of the easement formation, I don’t see how he could block access. He can likely gate it, but if he did, he would probably have to provide you a access if the gate were locked.

      No matter, this will likely be a situation that will require a lawyer. You may be able to find a mediator to work through it, but if the neighbor things they are in the right, no amount of negotiating will matter.
      Likely, law enforcement will say this is a civil matter and send you to court.

      Good luck.

  21. We are adding on to our house (a sub-division in Arkansas) and was told we need to be 15 feet from the property line. Two questions.
    1) is the property distance measured from the edge of the roof or the wall?
    2) Would a concrete slab patio from the house with a pergola be considered part of the house, since the pergola would not be attached to the house?

    • Different districts have different rules about what is considered a main structure vs an auxiliary structure and how that affects the setbacks.
      Some allow axillary buildings to be closer to the line than main or primary structures.
      A building line is typically measured from the part of the structure that is closest, this includes eaves.
      Usually, if the top of the concrete is within a certain distance of the ground, it isn’t considered but the pergola would likely be.

  22. I live in DeKalb county Tennessee in Alexandria specifically. We have owned our property for 15 years and have a 38×40 garage in the rear of our property. Currently my adult son’s vehicle is in the garage being repaired. The lady who recently purchased the property on the corner whose daughter works for the city has informed me she will be putting up a 6-ft privacy fence around her property and on the property line this is going to block entry to our garage and make it unusable I feel this is a ploy as to she wants to buy our property anyway and this will make majority of our property unusable is there anything we can do to prevent her from completely restricting access to our building that we have had for 15 years unimpeded

    • I also forgot to mention I have been attempting to contact the town hall for the last week three times a day every day and no one will return my call and let me know how far off the property line the fence should be The space between our garage door and her fence will be 19 ft every neighbor prior to her has been told they were unable to put up a fence because The lot was 0.2 and did not have enough area to place a fence with state and government easements intact however since she has a daughter that works for the city it seems those rules have disappeared any suggestions

      • I have not heard of any state restrictions on fencing. Local municipalities may have some, but typically, you are allowed to build a fence up to or on the property line. Some prevent you from obscuring the line of sight at roads or limit the height of the fence or even the material of it. Some neighbourhoods have restrictions above that of the municipality. These are typically enforced by the Home Owner’s Association. If there isn’t one but there are restrictions, you would likely need to contact an attorney.

        It is likely that you can get the zoning ordinance and the map online.

    • If it requires you to cross onto her property without the benefit of an easement or permission, you are likely trespassing. Unless you have an easement or a court order, I don’t believe she has to allow you to cross onto her land because your garage was built too close to the property line to be used the way you choose to use it. And when I say “cross” that included being over it, but not touching it. She has the rights to the air above her property as well as the ground below.

      My recommendation would be to either try to work something out with her or speak to an attorney. There may be other legal means to acquire the right to use her land.

  23. We are thinking about buying a property in Anderson county TN. The lot is irregular and as such we have a dive to the road and then about 50-75 feet back the rest of our property would start. To the right of the drive and in front of our property is a house. I can only find info on setbacks from the road and side and back. It has to be 30ft from the road and 15 from side and back of the property line. My question is which setback applies to the property at the front but essentially behind the other house? Wouldn’t still be 30 feet or would it be the 15 since the drive is already over 30 feet from the road to the start of the larger part of the property where we would build?

    • Typically speaking, the “front” setback begins when the lot widens enough to meet the county requirements for minimum lot width. For example, if you have a triangular shaped lot, your setback may be 80′ off the front of the property because that’s how far back you had to be to get the (for example) 150′ minimum lot width. With a flag lot (see image) the “offset” front is the front line (the yellow area).

      Flag lot showing where front setback would be.

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