Thu | Aug 17, 2017

A matter of land | Post-hurricane tips for your property boundary

Published:Sunday | October 9, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Craig Francis
A motorist drives through a flooded road in St Thomas while Hurricane Matthew threatened Jamaica.
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Good day, readers,

While Jamaica was spared the worst of Hurricane Matthew, issues related to what could have happened remain relevant. Today, I want to look at some things to do to secure your boundaries if the island is hit by a similar weather system in the future.

There are lots of boundaries that are defined or demarked by trees or plants (a growing fence), and these might have been blown down or washed away during the passage of a storm or hurricane.

This unwelcome and unplanned removal of these boundary markers, if not dealt with in a timely manner, can cause great stress friction and disputes in the future.

I suggest that the felled trees be cut near enough to the roots, if not fully uprooted, so that the trees, when they grow back, will be in the same position as they were before the passage of the hurricane.

If the tree is totally rooted out, it is suggested that a replacement be planted in the exact spot from which the former was uprooted. There are trees that grow quickly, such as the calabash or the 'Never dead' (Mataal) tree. Where you have a problem with your boundary corners that are demarked by trees or plants that have been felled, ensure that you trim them so that they grow back in the location that they were originally in.

If there was the blowing down of your wire, zinc or any dividing fence between you and your neighbour, then this, too, must be dealt with expeditiously to avoid future boundary disputes.

If a fence was blown so that it is not on the boundary but now straddles the boundary if left unchecked for in excess of seven years, then the Limitation of Actions Act may cause that to become the new boundary, so you must deal with the issue with alacrity.

Before erecting the fence, you should consult a commissioned land surveyor so that he or she can confirm or replace the boundary markers.

Never try to replace boundary pegs from memory or even using tapes to measure distances when trying to replace a boundary mark.

This is not only an unwise thing to do but also illegal. Let the land surveyor replace the marks or identify them so that you can re-erect your boundary wall/fence in the correct place to ensure that there will be no dispute with your neighbours.

This will also ensure that you will not encroach on anyone's property nor will you give up any of your property.

I urge you to tend to that property, boundary/fence expeditiously so that you will avert any possible boundary dispute in this post-Matthew period.

Until next time, traverse well.

- Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or Precision Surveying Services