We bought a house with an established, fenced yard. The neighbor who shares our fence moved out and a new neighbor moved in. The new guy had the property surveyed and apparently the fence is 18 inches over his property. He wants to build a garage and is requesting we move the fence within two weeks. What is our recourse?
Your new neighbor may be legally correct that his survey line between the properties shows that your fence goes over, or encroaches, by 18 inches onto his property. However, when you say you have an established fenced yard, what you have is called an adverse possession claim. Our ancestors brought this law over from the Old World.
It is still valid. Courts will support your equitable claim to ownership of the neighbor's legally owned yard if you can show that your established yard was held openly, continuously, exclusively, adversely and notoriously for the statutory period.
State laws vary, but both New Hampshire and Massachusetts require establishment of this right for 20 years. The fact that the fence was put up by a previous owner is OK. Their commencement of the right transfers to you under a concept known as "tacking."
These are nasty little cases. People will defend their property lines like almost nothing else. The fact that your disputed area is fenced and not in the woods is a big plus for you. Establishing the 20-year property line by you and you predecessors will be crucial. Taking a case like this all the way through the judicial system could be very costly. So, I recommend mediation.
Can I demand my employer to give me a polygraph test if I am being accused of sexual harassment that is not true? I am being accused of sexual harassment that never happened, but they never spoke to them. Am I allowed to demand that they give me and the accuser a polygraph test?
No, first of all the polygraph, despite its many advocates, is not a reliable device and is inadmissible in many states. Outside of thriller novels and TV, the polygraph is not an authoritative determiner of truth.
Second, unless you have an employment contract or a union, we are all employees at will, and the employer has no affirmative obligation to spend money for such an expensive and unreliable source. There are union and other contexts in which polygraphs are, in fact, used in some work environments.
The Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits many private sector employers from using polygraph tests for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. However, the law allows lie detector testing in limited circumstances. So, the bottom line here is, private employers, in large part, should not employ lie detectors, but one exception includes security-based jobs.
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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover, Mass. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.