Fence line problems are not uncommon. In the Sequim and Port Angeles areas there are a lot of old fences, especially barbed wire fences left over from over a hundred years of grazing cattle and farming. Fence line disputes come up periodically, because many of the old surveys were not accurate. I’m surprised at how often fence lines are off by two feet, 7 feet or even 15 feet on larger parcels. But a fence line problem can arise even on a small lot in the city.
Fence Line Problems
Question: I purchased a 5 acre parcel in Clallam County, but just found out (after closing) that the neighbor’s fence line (a 1947 barbed wire fence) is about 7 feet on my property at one end and about 2 feet at the other end. What can I do?
Answer: Buying property in an area that developed from agricultural or dairy farms, such as the Sequim and Port Angeles areas, means fence lines are not always the true survey line. But that isn’t obvious when you’re buying property, unless you have a survey (prior to closing and with the right language in the addendum, etc.).
The best solution is to work it out with the neighbor. Move the fence at your cost, if your neighbor is agreeable. If not, you might find yourself just leaving it where it is, unless you can’t for various reasons. If you cannot work out any solution with your neighbor, and you don’t want to leave the fence where it is, the legal cause of action is called a “Quiet Title Action.” That is expensive and stressful. Honestly, having been a lawyer and now a Realtor, this comes up more than most people think. It can be a stressful and expensive crisis, one most people could do without.
Fence Line Issues
I recommend knowing where your boundary lines are and whether any fences are the true boundary line or on or off your property. When you buy property, especially a large parcel that has been part of a larger farm or agricultural area, I recommend working with an experienced buyer’s agent, and I hope that buyer’s agent will be me. Fence line disputes are no fun.
Last Updated on September 20, 2019 by Chuck Marunde