Get Real about Real Estate: Surveyor determines ownership of land

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Dear Michael: Four years ago, my neighbor placed a fence on my land. I want to take it down, but every time we have tried to take it down he has come out and yelled at us saying it is on his land. The problem is, it is not on his land and we can prove it.

Answer: You need to hire a surveyor whose profession is to determine and establish boundaries for ownership of land. He will stake the corners and mark the edge of your land. Once completed the tax assessor’s office can compare the map of your property with your surveyors. This should give you the definitive boundaries of your land. If your neighbor has encroached on your land, you may have to sue him to remove his fence, or you may be able to remove it yourself. If he wants additional land for his own purpose, he can always rent or buy it from you. For more information on your legal options, please consult with a real estate attorney.

Dear Michael: We just purchased a home three weeks ago. We were in the home for just two weeks before the first rain. We found that the roof leaked. Before we purchased the home, the seller had originally disclosed that the roof leaked. We then decided not to buy it. A few days later, the seller disclosure form was amended and then it stated that the roof did not leak. The seller and Realtor said the original disclosure form was an error. What options do we have?

Answer: If you have proof that the seller knew, or should have known, that the roof leaked you can sue the seller for misrepresentation. If the seller changed his mind (and then altered his seller disclosure form) simply to get you to buy the home, you may have a good case to go after the seller. One question comes to mind: Did you (or a professional home inspector) inspect the roof before you bought the home? If you did not, you should have. Once the seller disclosed to you that there was a roof problem, you should have made sure before you closed that he wasn’t lying. If you did inspect and found no leak, it may be that the roof problem you now have is a new problem. You can discuss the leak with your roofing contractor and find out what the problem is with the roof and how long he thinks that problem has existed. Finally, take a look around the ceiling below the roof to see if you can tell whether there was prior damage that was painted over by the seller. If a seller knows of a problem and covers it up, the seller could get into big trouble. Seller disclosure laws are very straight forward. Consult with a real estate attorney. You may be able to cover attorney’s fees in addition to your damages.

Dear Michael: I own a condominium in a complex that was built in the 1960s. A family used to live upstairs from me, and the noise I would hear was typical for condo living. They moved out and the new owner renovated and installed hardwood floors. Now the noise is unbearable. What can I do? Our condominium association is unwilling to help me.

Answer: There are two things you need to do before your situation worsens. The first thing you should do is to find out what is the specific change in the unit upstairs that worsen the noise. Some condominium associations have rules and regulations relating to the type, quality and installation procedures for flooring and carpeting. If your association has these rules, you want to make sure that the neighbor has abided by them. If not, have the association enforce its own rules. If there has been poor workmanship or work performed on the neighbor’s unit without condominium authorization, you might be able to force the seller trough the HOA to fix these issues by going to the association and reporting the violations. You may also have the condominium board cite the homeowner. Unfortunately, if the cause of the noise is merely that the new family upstairs is more active, you might be out of luck. Some associations have rules relating to noisy activities. If there are violations of noise rules, and the neighbors are unreasonably loud, those rules can be enforced by the association. But your problem seems to come about from normal activities in the unit. As such, it is unlikely that you would be able to force the owner to do anything. Especially if they have done everything within the rules of the HOA and the noise issue is only a result of making use of a condo in a usual and customary manner. If after trying everything and all has failed, your only other option may be to sell your unit. If you decide to sell, you will need to disclose the noise nuisance to the new buyer.

Michael Kayem is a Realtor with Re/max Estate Properties serving Culver City and the Westside since 2001. You can contact Michael with your questions at 310-390-3337 or e-mail them to him at: homes@agentmichael.com