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A matter of land | HELP! My neighbour has ‘captured’ some of my property

Published:Tuesday | August 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMCraig Francis

Good day readers.  I want to thank my colleague and friend Timothy Thwaites for filling in while I was off.

This week I will respond to a question from a reader who has a problem with her neighbour.

Good day Mr Francis,

What’s the process to reclaim land if your neighbour moved his fence to take in a part of your property?

Good day T.L.   The first step is to determine if your neighbour has indeed captured a part of your property by overstepping his boundary.
The only means of doing that is to engage the services of a commissioned land surveyor.
You will require that the surveyor conducts a boundary re-opening and a re-pegging of your property so that the exact location of where your boundaries are.
This is an exercise where the surveyor conducts field surveys and this, coupled with mathematical calculations determined from your title plan or diagram will show where your boundary pegs are to be located. The surveyor will then re-peg the property.
You will also require a surveyors report which will be produced by the same surveyor who conducted the re-pegging exercise.  This will then show clearly if your neighbour has overstepped his boundaries or not.
Correcting the boundary fence
The first step in the correction of the boundary fence, if it is incorrect, occurs when the commissioned land surveyor comes to conduct his re-opening exercise as he is required to serve “Notices of Survey” to the owner of the adjoining properties.
Your neighbour should be present at the time of the re-pegging and if he is there and he has indeed overstepped his boundary and captured a part of your property this will be pointed out by the land surveyor and he will clearly see, based on the marks placed by the surveyor, where his boundaries are.
This will be clearly demarked and will leave no ambiguity as to where the boundaries are so both parties will have a clear understanding of the boundaries and where the fence should be.
If after the surveyor identifies or places the pegs at the position of the boundary and your neighbour is still not convinced he has to consult another commissioned land surveyor to satisfy himself of the evidence presented as to the locations of the boundary pegs.
Once he has done that he will need to remove the fence immediately from your property.
If he refuses to remove the fence then have your lawyer write to him giving him a set amount of time to remove his fence after which time you will have it done for him.
I hope it doesn’t come to that and that good sense will prevail.
All the best T.L. and I hope you and your neighbour can mend not just the fence but also your relationship.
Keep sending our questions and comments and let’s continue to explore A Matter of Land. 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 or   Precision Surveying Services