I live in Washington State and I have a problem involving 5 acres... 330' by 660', regarding my back line.
An old fence had been up for about 30+ years. When I moved in, the original owner of all this land (in his 70's) told me that the fence on my back line was off by 20' or so. He said that when he divided it up he had made a mistake and shorted this acreage, but had never moved the fence. When I moved in I left the fence as it was and let him live out his years in peace. When he passed away the land was purchased by a rich guy that was hardly ever there and he did nothing with the place.
A survey was done about 10 years ago by a new neighbor that was moving in on a different side of me. Since the boundary lines in this area were confusing and had not been done for about 80 years, the county requested that the surveyors stake out about 180 acres of area around here. My surveyed property back line was found to be 27 feet into the neighbors side and the fence is 27 feet into my property... back neighbor owes me 27 feet. This boundary line is clear and exact and is actually a township line and a latitude line. It extends all the way into the city and is used there as well. The neighbor behind me that owes me the 27 feet pulled out all the survey stakes and flags, both metal and wooden... so now there are no marks to find... how convenient for him.
Five years ago this back neighbor was taking down the old fence to begin putting up a new fence on the same line as the existing old fence... in the wrong place. I went out there and told him that he owed me the 27' but he would not move the fence to where it should be. I told him it had been survey staked and he said there were no stakes to prove that. I told him if he hadn't pulled them out there would be. Since I had been saving to be able to replace this old fence myself and I thought that maybe we could work out a deal. So I asked him if I paid for all of the supplies (fence wire, posts, nails and let him use my tractor) and he just did the labor, would he agree to put the fence on the correct line... he said "yes". We both knew pretty close to where the correct line should be. I thought this was great as the labor part was the concern for me. This cost me $980, but I figured if it got the fence to where it needed to be it would be very much worth it.
I had been ill for several months and during this time I was diagnosed with MS. I was bedridden for a long time and I was not able to get back out to the fence line to check out the new fence. When I finally made it out to see it I was horrified... he had taken my money and put the new fence on the old (incorrect) line... same place as the old fence had been in. I called him and asked him why and he told me that since the old fence had been on that line for so long that he owned that land now. And because the new fence was put up on the old line there was nothing that I could do now.
This was the dividing wedge for me and this young man. We had never been close or friends or anything and we both kept to ourselves and repsected each others privacy. But what he did was wrong. I vowed to save my money again and this time get that land back if I could.
Three years ago another survey was done by a different neighbor and I got a chance to see where the true line was and how much land was involved before the stakes were yet again pulled out by the back neighbor. 27' by 330' is alot of land, but I did not have the money back then to hire a lawyer and fight to try and get it back. Now I have enough money saved up and I want to persue this. I am older and I want to get this land issue cleared up before I pass on and my children inherit my home. I don't want them to inherit this boundary line problem too.
My plan is to have my own survery done and then proceed. I now know that it is illegal for him to remove the metal stakes and I will report it now if he does it again. He has never used this land for anything although once in a great while he will mow it... maybe once or twice a year... some years not at all. He has horses on his land but he has them in an area that is fenced inside of the property line fence... to me this proves that he knows that land is not his.
Our land description on our county tax records shows the survey line and that we own this land... it is a complete 330' by 660' on our deed and the back neighbors tax records show his 20 acres as a complete 660' by 1320'. We have been paying the taxes on the 330' by 660' all along, but we only have acces to 330' by 633' because of the fence being in the wrong place. There is nothing in writing that has ever given him access to this land... and nothing verbal either.
So my question is... do you think I have a chance in winning a case like this or am I out of luck? I have enough money now to fight this and I think it is important to get this cleared up before I pass on. I have never been friends with this neighbor and do not intend on that in the future, so I am not worried about any hard feelings or anything like that. I just want to be legal and informed in all my proceedings. I would like to know if I have a chance before I make the decision to persue this fully or if I just need to forget about it and count my loss.
Thank you for any info and advise.