What do you do when your neighbor’s fence encroaches on your side of the legal boundary?

Legal property boundaries serve as the invisible lines that separate two parcels of land. In many cases, these boundaries are demarcated by fences, providing a clear visual representation of where one property ends and another begins. However, disputes regarding boundary fence encroachment, or fence line encroachment, are not uncommon if the fence has been placed in the wrong location.

Have a different type of property-based dispute? See our helpful information on other types of real estate disputes in Oklahoma here.

Understanding Boundary Fence Encroachment

Boundary fence encroachment occurs when a fence or any part of it extends beyond the property line and onto a neighboring property. This can happen due to various reasons, such as errors in property surveys, miscommunication between property owners, negligence or lack of care by the fence installer, or even by deliberate action.

Because the fence line serves as a visual demonstration of what land a property owner claims to own, a fence line in the incorrect location can serve to support a claim for adverse possession, or squatters rights, to the encroached area. For this reason, it is essential for the rightful property owner to take swift action against the encroaching party, or risk losing the legal title to the encroached area.

Pre-Litigation Communication: The First Step

When a property owner discovers that their neighbor’s fence is encroaching on their land, it is crucial to approach the situation methodically and diplomatically. One of the most effective pre-litigation strategies is to send a pre-litigation letter to the encroaching party, formally notifying them of the issue and requesting resolution. This letter should include the accurate citations to relevant Oklahoma law and follow local procedural rules.

The pre-litigation letter should identify the issue, describe the encroachment, show evidence of the encroachment (such as a recent survey showing the overlap), request resolution within a certain timeframe, and inform the recipient of the risk of taking no action to remedy the issue. This letter also serves another crucial purpose: document your position and attempt to resolve the matter outside of court action.

Receiving a Pre-Litigation Letter For Boundary Fence Encroachment

The encroaching party is typically the party to receive the pre-litigation demand letter. When receiving the letter, the encroaching party can respond with cooperation, negotiation, denial, or by not responding at all.

Litigation to Fix Trespass and Fence Encroachment

While pre-litigation communication is a crucial step in resolving boundary fence encroachment disputes, it may not always lead to a full resolution of the issue. When the encroaching party refuses to cooperate or disputes the claim, legal action may be the only viable option to protect the parties’ property rights.

Litigation Process

The litigation process for boundary fence encroachment issues typically involves filing a complaint, engaging in discovery to gather evidence, and proceeding to a hearing and/or trial if a settlement cannot be reached.

Adverse Possession: What if I don’t take any action to fix the encroachment? What if I do nothing?

If the encroaching property owner keeps the fence in place for more than fifteen years, Oklahoma law may allow that encroaching party to obtain legal ownership of the encroached area. Many factors have to be present for the encroaching party to win.

Get Help Handling A Fence Encroachment

Before proceeding with litigation, parties should consult with a real estate attorney who has significant experience in property boundary disputes. An attorney can provide valuable guidance on the strength of your case, potential legal remedies, and the most appropriate course of action from the beginning of the dispute through final judgment.

Get The Experience You Need.

Contact Avenue Legal Group to ask questions and begin resolving your boundary fence encroachment, trespass, or adverse possession dispute.



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