RAQs: Recently Asked Questions

Topic: Legal Requirements for Selling Library Building - 12/13/2019
We are a Special Legislative District Library. We are constructing a new library and will be selli...
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2019 Permalink

MEMBER QUESTION

We are a Special Legislative District Library. We are constructing a new library and will be selling our current building. I would like to know if there are any specific steps we are legally required to take in selling the property. For example is public notice of the sale required? Are we required to entertain a certain number of offers, etc.? Thank you for any information you can provide.

WNYLRC ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE

A new library building!  How exciting.  And what a huge additional array of additional duties it presents, as the library begins to think about moving.

Transitioning library space is a huge undertaking.  And when it involves selling the legacy structure previously occupied, the task can get even bigger.

Here are just a few of the plot twists I have run into during real estate deals involving old buildings:

  • We found out that the building wasn’t actually owned by the library (it was owned by the sponsoring municipality);
  • We learned that part of the parking lot the owner had used for over twenty years wasn’t actually on their property (it was on their neighbor’s);
  • The inspection showed that the building had a ruptured sewage line and had, for decades, been wallowing in its own filth, causing major foundation issues;
  • We verified there was friable asbestos in all the wall plaster;[1]
  • We imposed a restrictive covenant requiring the original floorboards to never, ever be removed (also called a “preservation easement”);
  • We discovered a secret underground tunnel.[2]

Why am I setting out this litany of events, when the member just wants to know if there are any posting/bidding/process requirements when a Special Legislative District or “SLD” public library sells a former building?

I mention them because every real property transaction—no matter what type of library is involved—is different.  And while the base requirements to transfer the building are actually very simple (we’ll get to them soon), the lurking contingencies can create painful extra “required” steps if not addressed well before the sale.

So, before I confirm the one step that absolutely must be taken, here is the “Ask the Lawyer: Basic Factors for Painlessly[3] Selling Your Library Building.”

Sale Factor

Why You Consider It

What You Do With It

 

1.

Your Library’s CHARTER

 

 

Your Charter may list the location of your current building.  So before you move or move to sell the structure, make sure the details aren’t at odds with anything in your founding document.

 

 

Okay, this is very important: Start a folder or a file on a shared drive. Going forward through this list, we’ll call this your library’s “Sale File”. 

 

The “Sale File” is going to contain everything your library needs to gather to anticipate complications and get your legacy property ready for sale.

 

 

2.

Your Library’s BYLAWS

 

 

The bylaws may reference the library’s location, and more importantly, they are the key to a board resolution authorizing the sale.

 

 

Put the bylaws in the Sale File. 

 

Your lawyer will prepare the resolution the board must pass to authorize the sale of the property based on what’s in the Bylaws.

 

 

3.

The DEED to the property.

 

The deed is proof that your library owns the property; it is also proof of the exact boundaries of what is to be sold.

 

 

Put the deed in the Sale File.

 

If you can’t find it, DON’T PANIC, you can get a copy from your County Clerk.[4]

 

 

4.

The SURVEY of the property.

 

 

The survey is a precise measurement of the property.  It is also a nice picture of the property, and shows important things like the exact acreage, and where your fence (if you have one) is.

 

Put the Survey in the Sale File.

 

If you can’t find it, DON’T PANIC, but alert your lawyer (see more on that below) because you’ll need one, and it will be an expense related to the sale.

 

 

5.

Any DONOTION DOCUMENTS or CONTRACTS that the property is controlled by.

 

 

Your legacy building[5] may have conditions on the ownership.  This is a huge variable and it is important to address or rule in or out right away.

 

 

If you have any DONATION DOCUMENTS or CONTRACTS related to the building, put copies in the Sale File. 

 

It will be the job of your lawyer to affirmatively rule out any donor direction or contract conditions controlling the property, but they can’t deal with what they aren’t aware of.

 

 

6.

Any LIENS or MORTGAGES on the property.

 

 

Your legacy building may have been used to secure a loan, or perhaps a sub-contractor has a lien related to a contract dispute.

 

If a valuation of the property was conducted as part of a loan, that should go to the lawyer, too.

 

 

These also need to go in the Sale File.  But generally, these are public documents, and can be obtained at the County Clerk’s.  And if you don’t know about them, don’t worry: it will be the job of your lawyer to affirmatively rule out any “burdens” on the property (although the library will likely have to pay them off).

 

 

7.

Any DEFECTS or DANGEROUS CONDITIONS the property has.

 

 

Hard-working, older legacy  buildings can have problems, and your library’s awareness of any defective or dangerous conditions will likely have to be disclosed as part of the sale. 

 

This is best planned up-front.

 

 

Once you have a lawyer for the sale, work with them to discuss any awareness the library has of lead paint, asbestos, mold, or any other conditions of concern.  Although certain conditions must be disclosed as part of a sale, this initial discussion should be done during a consultation that is protected by attorney-client privilege.

 

 

8.

The building’s ASSESSMENT.

 

 

Chances are, as a non-tax-paying entity, your library has not paid much attention to its assessment.  However, if the sale is to a non-exempt party, this number is going to get relevant.  It is good to consider that factor up front.

 

 

Yes, it goes in the Sale File.

 

9.

The Library’s LAWYER

 

 

In the boxes above, the word “lawyer” appears more times than the rules for good writing allow (for pacing and to avoid being repetitive, I should have said “your attorney,” and “your legal counsel”, but I wanted to make a point here). 

 

I trust you see the pattern that is emerging: real property transactions are complicated (we haven’t even gotten to the library and not-for-profit-specific stuff yet) and the sooner a knowledgeable attorney is assessing the transaction and making sure the library has addressed any contingencies, the better.

 

(NOTE: now that I have made my point, I will use synonyms for “lawyer”).

 

 

An attorney retained by the library to handle this transaction should bring the following to the table:

 

1. They should have handled at least three other transactions involving the transfer of real property owned by a not-for-profit;

 

2. They should provide the library with a retainer letter that quotes not only the rate for the closing (usually there is a “range” in a particular area), but the hourly rate for work on things like your bylaws resolution, dealing with any lingering concerns, etc.

 

3.  The attorney should be asking for the items in the “Sale File” (and more) if they don’t have them already.

 

The board should not be afraid to ask for proposals and to comparison shop!

 

 

10.

The library’s REAL ESTATE AGENT

 

 

This person should only be appointed after you determine your lawyer (if appointed at all).  If your library does use a licensed realtor, they should be selected for both their previous experience with similar properties, and their ability to productively cooperate with the library’s attorney.

 

 

The real estate agent should also be under contract (a contract first examined by the library’s lawyer) and the library should never agree to the agent serving in a “dual” role for the seller (the library) and the buyer.

 

 

11.

A VALUATION of the property

 

As fiduciaries of the library, your board owes it to the institution to work for the best possible price (unless the property is to transfer in something other than an “arms-length transaction”; more on that later).  This means their vote to sell should be backed by reliable information, provided to the board without bias, and based on professional credentials.

 

 

The board should consider the valuation, along with the input of the lawyer and the real estate agent, prior to resolving to accept a contract of sale.

 

12.

If relevant, the building’s LANDMARK status or location in a designated historic building, and any documents pertaining to its HISTORY.

 

 

This can impact the use your buyer can make of the building, and can also impact the costs of rehabilitating or renovating it.

 

Marketed properly, historic status is a benefit.  But you have to find the right buyer.  It is a big factor to plan around.

 

 

Once you’ve assembled the “Sale File,” the attorney retained to assist the with the sale will be able to help the library chart a path forward.

Why do I keep emphasizing the early involvement of an attorney?  One look at all the variables created by the factors in the chart above (and my bullet list of “interesting” contingencies) shows why the early involvement of a lawyer is necessary. 

Now, at this point the astute reader will probably say: “This is a great chart and all, Ms. Lawyer, but are you really answering the member’s question?  They asked about required steps for the sale of a special legislative district library.”

The reason the chart (partially) answers the member’s question—or rather, positions someone to answer it—is because, based on the variables listed on the chart, there may be numerous steps required in the sale. 

But what steps—no matter what—are required?

For a library whose building is not owned or controlled by a village/town/city/county,[6] the sale is governed by a combination of the Education law, and the NY Not-for-Profit corporation law, which empowers a library’s governing board to acquire and dispose of library assets[7] in a way that best stewards the overall well-being of the library.[8] No public posting or precise bidding process is required. But there is one thing:

No matter what—the board will need to pass a resolution approving the sale…after receiving sufficient information to show they have examined the sale terms and made a decision in the best interests of the library.

How do you show the contract terms are in the library’s best interest?  By considering them in light of the library’s overall position, and the factors in the Sale File.

Now, with all that being said, I do have to emphasize an important distinction: the transfer of a library building is different than the transfer of an entire library. The transfer of an entire public library as a “going concern” may be subject to a municipal vote, which is allowed by Education Law Section 266.  But, as ruled in 1992 in the case of  Briody v. Lewiston[9], Section 266 does NOT apply to the sale of only the library’s building.

The Briody case, by the way, is a great example of why a library sale requires careful legal planning.  In that instance, the library conveyed its legacy building “pursuant to an agreement entered into in 1972, which provided that, if the Library moved to another location, it would convey its property to the Town and Village, which could dispose of the property for any purpose.” On the chart I provided above, this type of “Briody contingency” would be caught by a combination of factor 5, addressed by factor 9.

The good news is, when a library has already gone through the intricate dance required to fund, plan, and contract for a new building, they likely already have an attorney “briefed and ready” to assist with the sale of the old.  That attorney will also be in the position to help the library plan for contingencies that could delay the move (such as—shudder—complications during construction).

So, what steps get you to that board resolution, and a smooth process?  Assemble the Sale File, ask your attorney out for a stroll, and start planning a sale the board members can vote for with full confidence that they are making the best decision for the library.

Best wishes for an easy Certificate of Occupancy, a smooth transition to the new building, and a sale that shows the trustees are formidable fiduciaries!



[1] Man, they used to put that stuff in everything but breakfast cereal.

[2] SO COOL.

[3] Okay, I can’t promise it will be painless.  But think of this as the difference between working out regularly and running a 5K without training.

[4] I probably don’t need to tell an audience of librarians what a great resource a county clerk can be.  For instance, the Madison County Clerk has this great resource for finding deeds on their website: https://www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/152/How-to-Obtain-a-Copy-of-Your-Deed-or-Mortgage-PDF?bidId=

[5] I love buildings, especially when they ooze history and charm (sadly, this also means they might ooze lead and asbestos).  When a cultural institution is transitioning space, I often call the “old” building the “legacy” building.  It’s a way of saying “We’re looking to the future, but we honor the past.”

[6] Municipalities have to follow an array of “highest bidder” or return-on-investment rules, and yes, there will be some requirements on the process, too. But when those apply, it is not a sale by a public library, it is a sale by a municipality.

[7] Except for books.  There are special rules on those (Education Law Section 226, the same law that gives library trustees authority over property).  And of course, any assets governed by special grant terms or a donor contract.

[8] Unless the board is selling the building AND closing the library, or disposing of “substantially all” of its assets.  THEN you need permission of either the NY Supreme Court or the NY Attorney General for the sale.  But happily, that is not the situation here.

[9] 591 N.Y.S.2d 909, 1992 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 14855, 188 A.D.2d 1017

 

Tags: Property, Library Buildings

Topic: Ownership of Historic Markers - 9/13/2019
Various individuals and organizations have organized historic marker/signage installations in...
Posted: Friday, September 13, 2019 Permalink

MEMBER QUESTION

Various individuals and organizations have organized historic marker/signage installations in Buffalo over the years, including the Buffalo History Museum, the Pomeroy Foundation, neighborhood organizations, etc. Sometimes one entity, an individual or nonprofit, organizes the project while another entity, a foundation or private company, underwrites it. And then a third party is involved when it comes to installing the marker, by providing permission to use either private or public land.

My question is: whose property are these markers once they are installed?

Thank you!

WNYLRC ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE

This question reminds me of a story told by writer/actress Sarah Vowell in her book, Assassination Vacation

When researching in Buffalo for the McKinley chapters, Vowell met a resident with scars caused by a childhood bike crash into a marker related to the McKinley assassination. 

I remember reading this passage and thinking (like any lawyer would): Hmm, who would be liable for that?  And of course, the answer to that liability lies partly in the question: Hmm, who owns this thing in the first place?

Unfortunately, finding the answer is not as easy as crashing your bike into a marker.

The solution starts out simply enough:  property that is “fixed” to land becomes a “fixture,” and title to it runs with the land.[1]  This is why when you buy a new house, the shed, patio, and built-in grill pit (but not the moveable grill) come with it.  And unless something provides otherwise, a historic marker on the property would belong to you, too.

The problem is, there are a lot of “somethings,” that could provide “otherwise.” 

In New York, most historic markers, if controlled by law at all, are controlled by local law (the New York State Museum maintains an excellent summary as to why on their “Historical Markers” page).  And under state law, cities, towns and villages may pass their own rules for designating, funding, and installing markers at historic sites.[2]

Meanwhile, many private organizations exist to support the site-specific preservation of history.  As the member points out, one of the major supporters of this effort is the William G. Pomeroy Foundation (“WGP”), which operated in collaboration with the New York Museum to promote projects to install signs at historic sites.  

As part of that work, WGP does not condition funding on ownership of the marker (quite the contrary)[3].  That is a typical approach.  However, other private funders could insist on some ownership and/or rules for maintenance—conditions that would be controlled by a contract, donor letter, or bequest. 

So, while a good default answer to “Who owns a marker?” is “Generally the landowner,” the only safe answer, before some research, is “It depends.” 

How can a museum, library, or other stakeholder in a local historic marker now what “it depends” on?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but here is a process that should help:

Step 1:  Confirm the ownership of the land the marker was installed on (who of course might not be the property’s occupant).

Step 2:  Confirm if any easement or other real property condition controls the area of the land with the marker.

Step 3:  Assess what federal state and local law(s), resolution, or permits (if any), controlled the installation. 

Step 4:  Assess what contractual obligations (grant document, donation solicitation documents, installation permission document, maintenance agreement,[4]  designer/creator document, etc), may relate to the marker.  

Step 5 (optional, but highly recommended):  Take an informal—but thorough—poll regarding who is emotionally connected to the marker, and develop a plan to consider their investment in what comes next.

I know that not all of these steps are easy to do, and that for a third party who was not involved in the installation, Step 4 might be impossible.  But it remains true: to assess the status of an historical marker, you need to know its history.   

As for Step 5…that is more of a “best practice” than a legal consideration.  Over the years, I’ve observed that before undertaking any action that could impact a monument’s physical condition, it is best to know who will write an angry letter if you disturb the patina (or worse, remove it—even if only for a temporary cleaning).  This includes not only owners, but those who feel a connection to and love for the memorial.  When in doubt, it is good to exercise diplomacy!  And who knows, they might chip in on the maintenance fund.

History, property law, and signage are all serious business. 

Thanks for a great question.

CODA

For those considering embarking on a “historic marker” journey, here is form to help make the archivists, librarians, museum directors, history buffs, and lawyers of the future grateful to you. Every project should have a one of these cataloged, and nowadays, perhaps out there in cyberspace.

The [INSERT NAME] Historical Marker Legal Abstract and Dossier

Sponsored by [INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION]

This form is for use when planning and generating a final file for the development, installation, and maintenance of an historic marker.  This project might not require all the items below to be completed.  When an item does not apply, enter “N/A” for “not applicable.”

 

Marker name:

Marker text:

[Attach picture of Marker]

Address of property Marker is located on:

Owner of property at time of installation:

Survey of property with Marker location noted: [attach after noting location on copy]

Attached signed copy of agreement with property owner:

          [if easement or other property right granted, attach]

Installation start date:

Installation completion date:

Insert Description of Maintenance Plan or attach copy of plan:

Is there any money held in trust or budgeted for future maintenance?  If so, please describe:

Federal law passed under:

          [Attach copy of law and, if relevant, resolution or permit]

State law passed under:

          [Attach copy of law and, if relevant, resolution or permit]

Local law passed under:

[Attach copy of law and, if relevant, resolution or permit]

Insert name and address of Funder 1 and attach copy of funding letter, grant contract, or bequest document:

Insert name and address of Funder 2 and attach copy of funding letter, grant contract, or bequest document:

Insert name and address of Funder 3 and attach copy of funding letter, grant contract, or bequest document:

Attach copy of any fundraising solicitation:

The Marker’s designer was:

[Attached contract with designer]

If there is a graphic, who owned the copyright?

The Marker’s fabricator was:

[Attached contract with designer]

Did the Organization’s board pass a resolution regarding the Marker?  If so, attach a copy.

Did the Organization enter into a collaboration agreement to organize and effect the Marker?  This would include a co-sponsorship agreement, an agreement to coordinate different aspects of the project, or an effort to coordinate property ownership, permissions, or endorsements of the project. 

If such an agreement was entered into, please attach.

Name of person filling out form:

Complete file with all attachments is located at____________________________.

 

 


[1] See the case Ritchmyer v. Morss, 5 Abb. Pr. (n.s.) 44, 1866 N.Y. Misc., among many, many others.

[2] In Buffalo, this law is § 337-33Local historic markers.

“The Common Council, by majority vote and with the consent of a private property owner who agrees to maintain the same, may cause to be erected or affixed to a structure a local historic marker that provides information regarding a site that it deems to be of local historical interest, after verifying the accuracy of the information contained on said marker with a local historian and by properly designating and appropriating funds for the creation of the same. A local historic marker shall in no way deem the site or structure it describes as a landmark, landmark site or historic district as those terms are defined in this chapter, nor shall it afford the local site or structure any additional legal protections or benefits.” [emphasis added to address maintenance aspects of question]

[3] Since this was an important aspect of the question, I gave the WGP a call.  I was fortunate to reach Christy Fuller, who was very gracious about answering a convoluted phone call from a lawyer at 9:30 on a Monday.  Christy confirmed that WGP does not condition their grants on ownership of the resulting marker. 

[4]  A maintenance plan should really be part of any historic marker installation.  The application guidance from WGP, for instance, mentions this.  But if every marker had a perfect plan, I bet I wouldn’t have gotten this question.

Tags: Laws, Historic Markers, Property

Topic: Next-door Neighbor/Real Estate Disputes - 12/28/2018
What laws impact a library’s next-door-neighbor relationships?  Are there best practice...
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2018 Permalink

MEMBER QUESTION

What laws impact a library’s next-door-neighbor relationships?  Are there best practices for neighbor disputes? 

WNYLRC ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE

There are few relationships that can be as rewarding—and as fraught with tension—as the relationship between neighbors.  I have seen neighbors unite to fight for preservation of their streets historic assets, and I have seen neighbors bring law suits over shrubbery.  A library is wise to cultivate a good relationship with its neighbors, just like a person would at their own home.

What laws impact a library’s relationship with its neighbors?  Most libraries exist on land[1], or within a building, so the controlling law is called “real property” law.  “Real property,” which could be land, or a building, is distinct from “personal property” (like a book) or “intellectual property” (like a logo).  Although many laws impact real property, in New York, the major one would be the “Real Property Actions & Proceedings Law” or “RPAPL.”

Also impacting real property and the relationships between neighbors are: building codes, planning regulations, zoning, permitting, contract, business, and construction-related law.  And of course, the education law, not-for-profit corporation law, and municipal law can all apply to how a library handles real property issues, while grant terms and donor restrictions can be relevant, too. 

And if the old oak in front of your library suddenly crashes into the roof of your neighbor, insurance law may come into play, as well.

Any one of these laws—and countless others—might be considered by a lawyer advising a library if there is a concern or dispute with a nearby neighbor.  But are there any general “best practices” to abide by?  Based on my experience with construction, real property, landlord-tenant, and contracts—here are some simple practices for preventing, and if necessary, addressing potential neighbor disputes.

Practice #1: Know where you stand

Every library should know precisely what property they occupy, and how they occupy it.  To do this, I recommend what I call a “binder solution.” 

For libraries that own their own property, the binder contains:

  • Deed
  • Survey
  • Assessment information (even if the building is off the tax rolls)
  • Mortgage (if you have one)
  • Any recorded easements or rights-of-way
  • Current and past insurance summaries and policies
  • Permits (if any)
  • All contracts and documents related to maintenance
  • Fixture and structure warrantees (driveway warranty, roof warranty, etc.)
  • Deferred maintenance plan

Basically, this binder should be a one-stop shop for information relating to the library’s property and the legal relationships it has with the world. 

For libraries that do not own their premises, the binder contains:

  • Lease
  • Survey or floorplan of library’s portion of building
  • Current insurance summary or policy
  • Permits (if any)
  • Warrantees for on-site physical assets your library paid for/owns (copier warranty computer system warranty, etc.)
  • All occupancy-related correspondence with landlord, including notice of defects or safety hazards

Why does all this matter?  Many real property battles are lost when owners over-state or mis-portray their rights.  Never initiate a property matter with a neighbor—even a seemingly simple one like a noise complaint—unless you know these documents will back you up (plus, having this material organized is just good stewardship).

Practice #2: Know your neighbor

This advice works on two levels.

The first level is obvious: know your neighbors.  Invite them over.  Know the names of their kids and what sports team they root for.  That type of outreach is insurance against any number of serious disputes.

The second level is a bit more covert: what’s in their “binder”?  Are they the owner?   Are they renting?  Might they be a squatter?  Basically, to the extent possible, develop a “binder solution” for them, too.  In getting to know them a bit better, you might develop some insights on the roots of your dispute.

Practice #3: Isolate this issue

In my experience, neighbor disputes can be some of the nastiest legal battles. I am no sociologist, but I imagine this is because when you fight with a neighbor, no one gets a break.  You are alongside and--in some places practically on top of—each other, 24/7.    And sometimes people are just mean…or have too many of their own problems to be able to honor another’s.

That said, if you have a potential neighbor dispute, isolate what you think the true cause might be.  Is the neighbor ranting about your ice cream social signage actually angry about fines from 1989?  Is the neighbor complaining about “those people parking” actually kind of racist? Is the dispute really about noise, or is the neighbor a narcotics peddler?

The point of this is: make sure you really know what’s up.  That way, you can keep things professional and separate if matters get contentious, and know what type of team to assemble to handle the dispute.

Which brings us to…

Practice #4: Use a professional!

Library staff are trained to help people find information, to select and categorize library acquisitions, and to operate their library according to applicable ethics and regulations.  They are NOT trained lawyers, surveyors, law enforcement, or alternative dispute mediators.

If your library is in the midst of a neighbor dispute, consider retaining a property manager, lawyer, real estate agent, or other paid expert to be the primary interface with the neighbor.  Their experience will bring a better result, and the distance they lend the situation may de-personalize it and save your library staff time and stress.

Practice #5: Pick your battles!

Neighbor disputes should only be entered into if they can be won decisively, quickly, and in a way that aligns with your mission.  For a community library, that means identifying an overall strategy before you start, and using only tactics that you can publicly defend.

It would be impossible to write an essay on this (although a book might be fun), but here is a chart of some typical scenarios, and how to pick your battles:

Your Library

Your Neighbor

The Dispute

The Law

Fight the Battle?

Owns its property, and just put a new skylight in.

 

Is a long-term renter. 

With the new skylight in, the ska music they have been blasting since 1987 can now be heard in the periodical section.

Could be in violation of a noise ordinance.

Could be a violation of their lease. 

Best to first gently and informally raise the issue with their landlord; if you’re in a small town, make sure you know all the players.  This could be a diplomatic (and loud) nightmare.

 

 

Rents its property, and has had the same lease since 1996.

 

Owns their property across the street.

 

 

After getting all the proper permits, your neighbor excavated for a new building and hit a natural spring, causing flooding in your basement and ruining a significant array books.

 

So much!  This would call for an immediate and very well-organized response.  But even before you call your lawyer, call your landlord and your insurance carrier.

 

You’d have to pick which battle.  Moving to a new location might be more mission-aligned than staying in a potentially damaged and moldy structure.

 

Is a public library that has occupied the second floor of the Town Hall 1934, but there’s no lease and no one has really questioned the arrangement.

 

Is the Town Historical Society, who have been in the basement of the Town Hall since 1974.

 

The Historical Society has, without asking, recently taken over your community reading room with a display case of genealogical charts. The room was recently redecorated with a grant that requires the room be accessible to all.

 

 

The only entity with clear rights here might be

the donor!

 

Ugh.  This is the type of battle that can get ugly, quickly.  Hopefully after you assess your position with a professinoal, some diplomacy and living up to any contractual obligations can save the day.

 

Is buying a historic property[2] to rehab and move into.

 

 

Owns the house next door.

 

In surveying the property, you find out that 5 years ago, your neighbor built their fence over two feet onto your new land.

 

This could involve looking at the survey, searching for easements (permission to use your property), and making an inquiry of the person you bought the property from.

 

You have to address it, since leaving the fence there without protest could result in the property eventually becoming the neighbor’s!  But be strategic and consult an attorney before you raise it externally (including with the neighbor).

My overall guidance?  Send neighbors a basket of fresh fruit ever year, and when you hand-deliver it, spend 10 minutes catching up and asking about their families.  It’s amazing how much ill will can dissolve over apples and pears.

Good luck out there!

 


[1] Inspired by this sentence, I checked: yes, as I am sure my readers are aware, there are libraries boats and library planes, too.

[2] I love historic properties and historic preservation.  That said, if you plan to do this, make sure your team has at least one person who has done a major preservation project before.  Those buildings are full of expensive surprises.

Tags: Laws, Management, Property

The WNYLRC's "Ask the Lawyer" service is available to members of the Western New York Library Resources Council. It is not legal representation of individual members.