Yet Another Boundary By Acquiescence Case…

February 28, 2011 | Erin Herbold

Iowa Code Ch. 650 governs boundary by acquiescence disputes. In the past few years, we have seen several cases involving boundary disputes in Iowa, usually stemming from a change in ownership that triggers a survey of the property. Here, owners of two adjoining parcels disagreed as to whether they or their predecessors had acquiesced to use of an existing fence line as the boundary between their adjoining parcels. A farmer owned the north parcel for many years before selling the property to the plaintiff in 1998. From the 1950’s until 2007, a wire fence separated the north and south parcels. The farmer farmed up to the fence line for at least fifteen years preceding the sale. After the transfer, the plaintiff seeded and mowed up to the fence line. In 2000, the owners of the south parcel (defendants) commissioned a survey. The defendants learned that the fence encroached on their property. In 2007, despite the plaintiff’s objections, the defendants removed the entire wire fence.

The plaintiffs requested that the district court quiet title to the disputed strip in them which would establish the fence line as the boundary between the north and south parcels.  The court agreed based on the evidence and quieted title in favor of the plaintiffs - the fence clearly marked the boundary between the parties for the requisite 10-year time period.

Surprisingly, the defendants appealed, but the court affirmed.  The fence line had clearly established the boundary. The adjoining landowners, prior and current, mutually recognized for ten years or more that the line marked by the fence was the dividing line between them.  The case reaffirms a point that we have made many times - in rural areas, usage of fences and established farming practices determine boundaries more often than do surveys.  Georgia Pacific Gypsum, L.L.C. v. New NGC, Inc., No. 0-983/10-0895, 2011 Iowa App. LEXIS 69 (Iowa Ct. App., Feb. 9, 2011).