Boundary surveys give most accurate reading


August 21, 1994|By Michael Gisriel

Q: I believe that my neighbor has built a shed over his property line onto my property. How can I find out exactly where the property line is and whether or not the shed is indeed on my property?

Charles Hall, Timonium

A: If the shed is actually on your property, then that is called an encroachment and you can force your neighbor to remove the shed from your property. If he refuses to move it, then after proper notice you can remove it yourself.

The only accurate way to be sure of the actual location of the property line between your two properties is to have a boundary survey done. The so-called "location surveys" commonly received by homebuyers at their real estate settlement, while inexpensive -- about $135 -- are not totally suitable for locating property lines. The location surveys only verify how a house appears to be positioned or "located" on the lot. A true boundary survey must be done by a licensed surveyor.

Q: Please settle an argument. If for some reason a homeowner delivers a fully signed and notarized deed to a house to me on Monday, but then delivers another fully signed and notarized deed to another man later that same week, perhaps on Thursday, but the Thursday deed is recorded in the land records before the Monday deed, who actually owns the house?

B. Chasney, Baltimore

A: Under Maryland law, the properly executed and notarized deed that is recorded first in the county land records takes precedence over a deed that is dated and delivered earlier but is recorded later.

For the first recorded but later dated deed to take precedence over the earlier dated but later recorded deed, the first recorded deed must have been given to a "bona fide purchaser for value" -- who has no notice of the earlier dated and delivered deed. Thus, the house in question would belong to the man who owns the Thursday deed because it was properly recorded first in the land records, as long as the owner of the Thursday deed had no notice of the Monday deed. Of course, the holder of the Monday deed would have a valid cause of action against the seller of the house for fraud.

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