It probably started over a year ago, when my man started questioning the property line in the back of my house. Having been a first-time-single buyer, I didn't question my realtor, who said the fence in the back was my property line. And I assumed the title company had done their job. Ok, let's be honest. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a title company until this saga started unfolding.
It's not like it hadn't been brought up before, the strangeness of my backyard, that is. A few people said, "Wow, your back yard sure is tiny." Or wondering why there were a few stone steps with a fence right down the middle, so I have half and the neighbors have half. I just shook my head and said, "I don't know why it's that way. It just is." But my man knows a lot about a lot, and he was more adamant with his questioning.
(Fence right through the steps)
At one point we even approached the neighbor. Not with any questions, but actually to ask if we could buy a portion of their property from them. There is a piece behind my house, on my foundation level, that we were thinking we could use to build an addition. Before the words were even fully out, the neighbor said no, and his wife said, "Then where would my dogs go to the bathroom?" So we just exchanged small talk about the neighborhood for a few more minutes, and he mentioned this addition he'd built a number of years ago.
(The roof of his addition centimeters from my fence)
Because things like this aren't the biggest priority when there's just a "hmmmm?" in your head, it took us a few months to make the rounds to the Manitou Springs city offices and both the city and regional buildings in Colorado Springs. We didn't even really know what we were looking for at first, but we got copies of paperwork detailing my and the neighbor's lots, and found out that he'd never pulled any permits for either his addition or his garage. Nor, for that matter, the A/C unit he was currently installing.
We looked at my ILC, which is not a formal survey, not admissible in court, and done in 2005. We called the company that had completed it and asked about it. They didn't own the original, so they couldn't give that to us (and the company that does own the original is out of business, so we were out of luck there), but the man we spoke to did send us an electronic copy of ours, with arrows pointing to all of the areas that aren't on the original - they had been drawn onto mine. Then they sent a guy out to look at our property, as we were thinking about getting a survey done. However, this is Manitou (= lots of crazy property issues), and surveys are expensive. Like $3,000 to $5,000 dollars expensive. I dropped that idea pretty quickly.
But we did go to our city planner's office with the ILC. Which, I forgot to mention, actually has my neighbor's house plotted on it, OVER my lot line. Yep, his addition looked like it was not only on my property, but someone had actually drawn it in on my document. The planner called them into his office, but without a proper survey, there really was nothing he could do.
It was some time in here that I saw the neighbor outside, and asked him again about the addition. I didn't say much, but told him I was wondering about the property line in the back. He then denied ever having built the addition.
With nothing else to do now on my own, I filed a claim against my title company (by now it had been explained to me what one was and what their job was - to make sure there were no issues like this prior to purchase). Oh, I also forgot to mention that I'd called the previous owner as well. It took a month for her to call me back, but when we spoke, she told me she didn't know anything about the property lines in the back of the house. See why this was a long, ongoing, something-could-happen-but-isn't-happening saga?
Back to the title company. I sent them pictures of my/the neighbor's property. I told them about his addition. I told them about the ILC. I sent them copies of the one I have, as well as the one that was sent to us with all the arrows on it. And, again after a couple months of silence (for the most part), someone there obviously decided there was enough of a question that a survey needed to be done. A man was out here for a few hours last Thursday completing that.
And while he wouldn't say much once he was done ("I don't want to create bad blood between neighbors"), it was quite clear from his chuckling that my fence is not actually my lot line. All he said was, "Your neighbor is going to have some problems."
So now we know. But at the same time, what do we know? Only definitively that his addition was built on my property. I still don't know:
*What the title company's responsibility is to rectify anything. They didn't do their job, and I, therefore, bought a property with incorrect property lines. Do they pay me something? Do they pay for legal representation? No clue.
* Does my neighbor need to give me property-tax money, since he's using part of my property?
*Will he be able to stay on that land? What kind of rights does he have if he's been on it, undisputed, for X number of years?
*Or will he have to tear his addition down? Or will he have to give me a chunk of his property as an alternative to doing that?
*Will he now have to have that addition (and garage?) inspected and brought up to code because neither were ever permitted in the first place?
*Does he have squatter's rights, and then am I just s.o.l? Would we have to have new property lines drawn up , then?
See? Again, nothing really happening, but sort of happening. And something definitely will. The only thing I'm pretty sure about is that it won't happen quickly.