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Dear PoPville – What’s the best approach for reclaiming my property?

Photo by PoPville flickr user BrennaLM

Dear PoPville,

I bought a row house a little more than two years ago. I realized last summer that one of my neighbors had long-ago seemingly invaded/encroached upon and built on a one-foot-wide strip of my yard, from my house all the way to the alley at the back-end of my property. I noticed it because I was building a deck and wanted the deck to run across the full width of my house, then realized that the fence separating our yards runs into my house about a foot in from the edge of my house. On my neighbor’s side, there’s a poured concrete walkway and the legs of a large carport on what seems to be my property. This neighbor is elderly and very sweet, so I didn’t want to make a big deal about it.

However, I recently learned that she’s selling the house and will be living full-time in another house she owns out of town. She’s been at her new home since February and I have no way to get in touch with her to discuss this matter. But I’m thinking that, with her house about to be sold, now’s the time to reclaim my property. Doing so will require removal of my neighbor’s carport, as well as removal of part of the concrete walkway.

What’s the best approach for reclaiming my property? Do I hire a surveyor first, to make sure what I believe is my property is, in fact, my property? Any recommendations for a surveyor? And what do I do after that? Should I make sure to get this done before my neighbor sells her house? I have no idea how to proceed. Thanks for any advice.

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