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Something To Consider When Purchasing Boise Homes & Land

Fences Make Good Neighbors But They Can Also Create A Legal Boundary Line


Caveat emptor is a Latin legal doctrine that has historically been applied to property law after the sale closes.  In the beautiful state of Idaho, there is one more reason for a buyer to be very aware of any adverse material facts regarding a property BEFORE it is purchased because after the sale closes you will have little if any recourse.

The Idaho Supreme court ruled (Cecil v. Gagnebin) that an existing fence that marked a boundary between two parcels of land, was the legal boundary, even though a subsequent survey showed the fence was almost three feet from the surveyed line.  

The legal case involved an old chain link fence that pre-dated 1977 and ran along half of the common boundary line.  Many years after the purchase, the Gagnebin family had their land surveyed and learned the existing chain link fence was actually more than three feet from the surveyed boundary.  Accordingly, they proceeded to tear down the fence and build a new fence along the recently surveyed boundary line.

Not so fast said the Cecil family!  The following year they retaliated by filing a lawsuit against their neighbors alleging that the original existing fence marked the boundary between the two lots, apparently they could care less what the survey said!

Long story short, even though the current property owners had no idea when and why the original chain link fence was erected, the court ruled that it represented a boundary by agreement by the former property owners and would continue to define the legal boundary of the properties into the future, ouch! 

GavelOf further interest was the courts ruling that because the fence ended about half way down the property line it ceased defining the property line where it ended.  Beyond the fence the Gagnebin's survey would define the remainder of the unfenced property line so there was now a jagged property line.

The practical application for Boise Idaho home buyers is obvious; make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly where the property line is, especially when you are purchasing a larger parcel of land.  You should always walk the property line (when possible) and look for anomalies such as old fences, signs, monuments, etc. that defy logical explanation and could potentially represent a line of demarcation, ergo (another Latin term for your reading pleasure) a boundary by agreement.  Although ordering a property survey is not inexpensive, it may be well worth it depending on the property and circumstances of the purchase.