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Georgia Land Lot Lines, etc. , land rights

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  • Georgia Land Lot Lines, etc. , land rights

    About 8 years ago I purchased a 68.3 acre parcel of property in South Georgia. It was surveyed and pins/stakes were located or put in. We fenced the front of the property (east border) but the sides (north,south) and rear (west) had a preexisting fence that was , in the opinion of the surveyor at the time, in the correct location(s) and was apparently agreeable to the adjacent landowners as they harrowed, mowed beside the fence as we did/do and have even helped each other put out a wild fire that crossed the boundary with the neighbor very apologetic about it crossing over. The deed was recorded and the boundaries matched the description of the boundaries of the adjacent properties. The original surveyor died several years ago and I have since used a local firm of good reputation who conducted earlier surveys on both the adjacent property and our property over a 30 year period. I hired the new surveyor to perform some cut-out surveying to separate my home and my office building from the rest of the farm and more recently, to establish an accurate line on my south border on which to establish a new fence to replace one in poor repair. According to the surveyor the fence was 5 feet or so on the neighboring property so we took that as accurate and gave up the 5 feet and established the new fence as per the surveyors locating with pins/stakes.( I mention these previous surveys to establish the fact that the surveyor is more than familiar, or professionally should be, with the property or he would have been unable to perform/be paid for the surveys). About 4 months ago the same surveyor re-surveyed my North border on behalf of a new owner of property adjacent to it and called to tell me that the old fence as installed on that border was also in error and that I had lost 3-4 feet along that border. Not much I could say, as he was "my" surveyor as well so I trusted him. Upon inspection they had felled trees onto my property and pushed up debri onto my property even over their "newly" established line.

    2 weeks ago the land owner behind me ( my west border) had a survey done by an unknown firm and I "discovered" surveying stakes 20-25 feet across the fence on my side of the original fencerow which has never been questioned until now. No notice, no request to come on my property, just stakes and pins indicating I have now lost an additional 20-25 feet x 1658 feet across the west boundary of my property. My surveyor, when questioned about the boundaries and accuracy of the surveys he has conducted began back peddaling and telling me that he needs to sit down and talk with me and show me "some things I may need to know" and "share some things about the property" with me and indicating that the property rights of the individual behind me may supercede mine due to their purchasing the porperty from the same owner but earlier than my purchase, etc., and generally being very vague and weak on his support of my property as deeded. He saif he'd have to wait until they filed a "new deed" and he'd get a copy and look it over and compare it to his notes/files.

    When questioned about the fact that the West and North border are located exactly on Georgia Land Lot Lines and that fact is agreed on in both deeds and that we should simply locate the crossing of those 2 L.L.L.'s and work out from there to establish the true boundaries ( please understand that I do not want someone to find "in my favor", I want to know what my boundaries are and to prevent future encroachment) he indicated that Georgia Land Lot Lines are not accurate and can't be used for determining a plat/boundary,. He further saifd they could not be located. I asked about sub-centimeter GPS and he said that it wouldn't work in wooded areas.

    If Georgia Land Lot Lines are referenced as part of a recorded deed and both pieces of property use those same lines to establish the shared boundary of the two properties then how can they not be relevant or locatable.

    Additionally, can someone conduct a survey on your property, establish grossly different boundaries than have been in place for 30 plus years and not notify/discuss this issue prior to developing the property.

    Is their an obligation on behalf of the surveyor to defend his surveys in the past?

    What good does having a plat and deed description for 68.3 acres of land filed at the courthouse do to protect the purchaser?

    This will further reduce my property by an acre or more if I roll over and give up the property without a fight, and it will be the 3rd time now in less than a year that I have lost property due to a resurvey.

    If the surveyors will not stand behind their surveys how can I prevent this from happening again and again?

    If my west and north corner are platted and described in the deed as being situated on Georgia Land Lot Lines...can someone not have the integrity/strength/ stand up and say this is the boundary...and that stick in a court of law?

    I only want my 68.3 acres as deeded. Within reason I do not care where the boundaries fall as long as I wind up with what I purchased. If I do not in fact own 68.3 acres due to a faulty survey then should the seller not reimburse me for the current fair market per acre price for the reduction in my property acreage from the as-sold acreage?

    Any opinions or insights would be very much appreciated. We only want what is ours but the stress of constantly losing property on all sides is ridiculous. If the surveyor can't stand behind their work they need to decline the jobs or be held accountable for the damage caused by their poor performance.

    I have been trying to locate a truly professional GPS/GIS equipped survey firm who can provide definitive/solid surveys but apparently they are few and far between . I still am under the impression that by either determining the exact crossing of the 2 Ga. Land Lot Lines, or by traditional means, someone should be able to determine where my property is in space and time!

    I apologize for the frustration that I am sure is evident but we have been through the ringer several times now and from day-one we simply found a piece of property on which to build our home and purchased it as per the deed desription and surveys provided but are regularly having to roll-over and accept losing property because of the lack of professionalism of surveyors and the lack of courtesy of adjacent landowners.

  • #2
    I suggest retaining a real estate attorney and sending a cease and desist letter to remove the stakes as they encroach your property and you may want to post a no tresspassing sign. You may need to go to court to seek a declaration that your survey boundaries are yours and are proper and valid.


    • #3
      Thnak you for the input. We aren't blessed with many attorneys who specialize in real estate in our area but I have contacted my family attorney and am seeking their advice on how to proceed legally. I spoke with my origianl surveyor again and he still is very evasive. I have started a search for an engineering firm who will perform a good hard professional survey.

      Thanks again for the input.


      • #4
        I would be happy to discuss this matter with you over the telephone if you would like to call me. I am located in Savannah and am a real estate attorney.

        Michael H. Smith
        The Webster Firm, P.C.


        • #5
          It sounds to me like you need a good real estate attorney who understands land lot boundaries and you also need a new surveyor.

          To call land lot lines "not accurate" is to fly in the face of 200 years of Georgia surveying and law. The land lot lines as surveyed on the ground many times do not match to representation of those lines drawn on paper. However, the line as surveyed on the ground is generally what was surveyed originally and has been accepted by all owners since then.

          To say that they cannot be located also flies in the face of the history of Georgia surveying. If you have ever done a fly-over of South Georgia, you can see a very large percentage of the land lot lines from the air.

          I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but land lot lines should not be taken lightly and if your deed actually uses land lot lines as the property boundary, you should do everything in your power to have the lines researched (historical documentary research as well as surveying) and settled. If your current surveyor insists that land lot lines cannot be found, go to your county tax assessor's office and check out the tax parcel maps, which should show land lot lines.

          I am not an attorney, but I do know a lot about surveying and law in Georgia. My opinion is that you need a real attorney and a real surveyor, both of whom should have a firm understanding of the history and importance of land lot lines in determine title.

          Land lots are legal boundaries, just like Sections in the Federal land states.


          • #6
            Land Surveyor

            I know you might be tired of hearing from land surveyors by now, but I would like to try and provide some input that might be helpful.

            First of all, let me say that it sounds like you have a very good reason to feel "discouraged" about your experiences with this matter. If I was in your position, I would want answers.

            I don't want to comment about the specific surveys you have mentioned because I don't know enough about them to make an informed judgement, but I would like to comment a little on the history of the process of surveying and transfers of property ownership. Hopefully it will help you understand what may have happened and how you can proceed with resolving the issue.

            I would first like to discuss the issue of Land Lot Lines. It's important to understand that the original surveys were performed in the 1800's by teams of surveyors who traveled with horses or mules carrying their supplies, and the did not carry iron pins or axles with them to set at the land lot corners. The typical method was to blaze trees that were on or near the lines and set the corners using materials they could gather on the trail. The most common materials were heart of pine posts or rocks. If the land lot corners that have been found recently are iron pins, they are most likely not the "original" land lot corners. That does not mean they were not placed at the same location as the original corner, but it can be very difficult to recover the records that would prove that. The maps and field notes for the original surveys should be available at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta. It's also important to understand that the measuring devices and procedures used for surveys has improved with technology, which accounts for the differences in measurements from older surveys.

            Another issue to look at is the methods that have been used over the years to transfer ownership. Sometimes property transfers were accompanied with surveys, and sometimes they were just done with recorded deeds. As time went on and more surveys were performed, the original legal descriptions began to change to match up with more current information. Therefore, the sequence of events becomes significant.

            Yet another issue is the process of surveying. The traditional method of measuring a boundary line involved running a "traverse" around the entire perimeter, which is what the majority of the cost of the survey was based on. If you consider the complexities of trying to resolve some of the previously mentioned issues, you cannot be completely sure that the legal descriptions don't have gaps or overlaps unless you survey every piece of property that adjoins the one you are trying to resolve. This means the price of the survey would increase by the lengths of those adjoining lines.

            What has happened over time is that certain surveyors have gathered enough information to make the necessary comparisons between adjoining legal description or, more recently, have been able to gather the data utilizing GPS equipment at a cost that is more reasonable than traversing all of the lines.

            Although this might not answer the question of why a previous surveyor called the fence the line and that has now changed, I hope it gives you some insight that might help you move forward. Maybe the previous surveyor could have explained some of this a little better before commiting to a judgement on the correct location of the property lines.


            • #7
              Art - please do not reply to old threads - this thread is from 2006. (The original poster has not posted since then.) Thanks.
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