Sweet Elderly Neighbor Not So Sweet

charroMarch 22, 2008

I moved into my home late in 2006. The weather was very inclement so a detailed survey could not be done until the snow melted and the ground thawed. I had a bit of a wait to get one done. The surveyor informed me that my neighbor has a fence on my property as well as some huge trees. She also has taken over a part of my lawn. She had no problem informing me that her grandson had removed my surveyor's temporary stakes on my lawn while he was mowing it. Her home consists of four entry doors and her own driveway. Each of her doors are very easily accessible from any part of her land. Yet, she insists on using my driveway for mail and package delivery. I even caught her oil company's service truck parking there. I asked them to leave. When it snows, and it snows a lot here, she has a neighbor go up my driveway and shovel a path from it to her door. A good part of the path is my lawn. Outside of this door is her mailbox and where the newspaper is placed. She does not use this door for entrance or exit as her driveway has an entry door, and even if she chose to, a walkway could be constructed easily to her front path or driveway.

When my snow plowers came, she came tearing out of her house because there was snow on her land. I reminded her of my survey and also gave her a copy of the survey that pertains to her property. This clearly shows that the snow was on my side. She still will not respect the boundaries. She constantly stares at me through her kitchen windows, and I feel no sense of privacy. I want to be a good neighbor but this is ridiculous.

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You need a lawyer to scare the heck out of her with some kind of injunction letter (if not more) about respecting your property 100% in all respects. I'd also threaten her (and follow through if necessary) with police re trespassing, etc. This is so far beyond someone's fence a foot or two over the line it's ridiculous and I can't imagine why you've put up with it as long as you have.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 6:52PM
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we have recently had a problem with people using our property to access the lake behind it. Talking to the police, we have to post 'no trespassing' signs before they can arrest anyone. If you can put these up facing her property she may get the hint! if not follow through with the police

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 7:43AM
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to add to the above, PUT UP A FENCE. heck, if nothing else put out the thorniest shrubs you can find and make a living barrier fence.

usually cases like this the previous owners did not mind and now she thinks she can still do it. when we bought our house the family of the old man we bought it from could not seem to get it thru their head that it was no longer fmaily property. his grandkids would ride their 4 wheelers thru teh yard just like they always had. i talked NICELY to one of them one day and asked that they stay to one side if they were riding thru to get to the woods, and after that they never even rode thru again. they go out of their way to go around. maybe you could try to be nice to her and see if she will finally understand that it is not her property and you really want to settle this civilly(NOT civil court either)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I think I'd bake a cake, cookies, pie.......whatever.......and take it over one day for a friendly visit. Explain the survey to her and the importance of having it, especially if one of you decide to sell in the future. Also mention that you'll be putting down permanent surveyor markers so that everyone knows the true property lines.

I can't visualize the layout of the two homes but maybe you can offer to come up with a arrangement that makes getting her mail easier.
You didn't mention the age of your neighbor, but my DM is 89 yrs young and I know that routine is very important to her and has become more so the past two years. If this is the case with your neighbor, keep in mind her age and how she probably sees her yard and home being the only thing she still has control of. Your making the first move may lead to the two of you becoming good neighbors.

I'm curious.......do you intend to use the portion of yard that has 'her' lawn and trees?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 2:16AM
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I've tried the "nice" approach even having her over for dinner. In fact, I think I was too nice that is why she feels she can do this.

The person who lived in my home previous to me was going through some personal problems and kind of let things slide. I would agree that because the previous owner did not say anything to her, she feels she has the right to do what she does.

I am not the confrontational type and would love to get along with her. I do feel that she is overstepping her bounds here. With the copy of the survey, I did write her a note telling her that I felt bad that she got upset when my men plowed the snow and that there seems to be misunderstanding as to the property line. I offered to show her the full survey. I closed the letter with "a good neighbor is very important to me". It has not made a difference at all.

The permanent survey markers are in and her grandson attempted to remove them also. My surveyor actually double marks the lot so if the top pin is removed, there is another one right underneath it.

Yes, I do plan on using the section of the lot where her fence and trees overlap my place. I am planning on putting a privacy fence along the line with some plantings.

I must tell you that she is not your typical "grandmother" type. She is probably in better shape that I am physically. I would guess her age to be 70 although she does not look it. I think what bothers me the most is that she was so "sweet" to me as long as I did not say a word about the property line. She is the one who opened the door when she became belligerent towards my plow guys and screamed at me.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:09AM
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Well, you've definitely been patient!

I'd first take lots of photos, including the surveyors markers, and then head out to the county courthouse and find out what you can do legally.

Our neighbors had a similar problem. They purchased land and built on it. They knew when they purchased the land that one side of their property line had a neighbor's fence inside their line.
Once they started landscaping they told the neighbor they'd be taking out the old fence. Turns out the neighbor claimed adverse possession (if my memory serves correctly) and they ended up in court for a few months. They finally settled and the guy claiming possession sold his property.

Another neighbor, with acreage, had the same problem when he decided to put his property on the market. He had allowed his neighbor to use an edge of his property for access to a storage building for many years. Guess who claimed they owned that strip of land?

Hopefully all you'll need to do is tear down the old fence and put yours up!

Here is a link that might be useful: Interesting discussion

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 12:43PM
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what's interesting here is that if you allow people to use your land for access for years, your permission (which is assumed if you have not posted signs or written certified mail stating otherwise!) actually becomes something they can legally use to claim ownership. at least in some states. check with your local assessor's office and the real estate law where you live. sometimes, sadly, when you're being nice and accommodating, you can put yourself in a bad situation.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 2:48PM
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Is your survey on record with the county? It probably is. Send her a copy, certifed mail, noting that it is recorded, and what the boundries are. Very nicely, explain that you would appreciate it if she would respect them. At least that way if it gets ugly you have some record that she if aware ofthe property lines. If you can't afford fencing the just put up metal T-post with wire tensil. It won't be pretty but it won't pull out of the ground either.

She is older and probably set in her ways. The problem is that if you don't do something about it then she can claim the land eventually by saying that you have allowed her possesion and continual use.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:01AM
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I wonder what the story is when someone, like myself, has recently moved into a home and finds themselves with this problem. I am not giving her permission to use my space; the other homeowner just let it slide. Definitely something to check into.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:04AM
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"Good fences make good neighbors".

Your predicament reminds me of when I moved into a condo, not knowing that the rest of the 29 units were occupied by old people, most of whom were widows. I will never again have the illusion that little old ladies are sweet and helpless. What a den of viragos! Do whatever you have to do to correct this situation and don't worry about her, she's legally and ethically in the wrong.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:17PM
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Yes, Charro, I get the feeling you don't feel you can or want to actually do anything about it, that you're maybe afraid to assert your valid rights, but as another poster said, if you let her keep going, you can lose your property legally if it goes far enough, never mind your peace of mind. Maybe enlist someone you know with some chutzpah to help you deal with it all, and don't be afraid of offending that woman who obviously has no qualms about offending you.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Charro, we're all dying for an update on you and Granny Clampett! Please post!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 9:21PM
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I did go to see a lawyer about what to do. I do want to be a good neighbor, but she is just so nasty; always giving me dirty looks and frankly, I just don't trust her.

After speaking with the lawyer, I feel like I am caught "between a rock and a hard place". He seems to feel that if I act in any way, she is just going to get nastier, like claim adverse possession because she has lived in the house for over 20 years. He did draft a letter for me to review and said that he would send it if I would like. It basically asks her to be respectful of my rights and lists the incidents that I described above. Again, he feels that sending this will just aggravate the situation.

I just want her to respect my property and me. I don't think that is too much to ask.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:39AM
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If I was in your position, I'd accelerate my plans for a privacy fence, at least on one side. Bring in a fence contractor, give them the survey and your surveyors contact info and let them start building your new fence.

I'd at least start by tearing out the fence on my property.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 2:38PM
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I understand not wanting to aggrivate your elderly neighbor, but bottom line: you own the land! I would go knock on her door and politely INFORM her that you will be taking down her fence, and putting up your own. I would try to stay positive, say how nice it's going to look, what kind of plants/shrubs you plan to put in etc. If that doesn't work, send the letter. If she won't answer the door, send the letter. If she gets worked up or angry, don't apologize, but just tell her that you wanted to tell her in person before the fence went in. You own the land, you can do whatever you want with it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 10:11AM
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I'd look for a different lawyer, this one doesn't look like he has YOUR interests at heart.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 4:01PM
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I agree with hendricus, your lawyer sounds like my Mother!
I'm sure he charged a nice fee to draft that letter you may never use.

You need someone that will advise you of your legal rights in this situation and what you need to do to move forward........not how to appease your neighbor. Look for an attorney that specializes in Real Estate.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 12:01PM
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Funny you should mention "nice fee" regarding the lawyer. Guess what came in the mail yesterday? His invoice. He billed me $500. And for what? The letter that he recommended not to send. Not to mention what he told me last week. That if this proceeded to court, the judge would think this whole thing is frivolous. By the way, this guy specializes in real estate. Heaven help me! I intend on writing him a letter today objecting to the fee, especially in light of the fact that I am in exactly the same position that I was before I consulted him. Good luck to me!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:09AM
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If he didn't tell you what he charges up front, he has no business asking for payment. But you need to find a litigation lawyer - they're the kind that get into it with people like your neighbour - real estate is almost incidental here.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 4:32PM
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I did contact the lawyer about his fee, and I have to say that he did tell me to pay him what I think he is worth.

My "sweet" neighbor is not letting up for one minute. Today, after I left to do errands, she sent her son out to mow my side of the lawn and lay some chemicals on it. Not only could you see that it was done on the lawn, but the clippings and chemicals were all over my driveway. This, after my landscaper mowed it yesterday. Obviously, she is watching my every move and that of everybody who is working on my property.

My first instinct was to write another letter reminding her once again about the survey and boundaries. Then, I thought "no", I am not going to do this. She does not respect me and is sneaky. I am not going to give her any notice that this is bothering me. First thing next week, I am contacting my landscaper to install either a decorative rock wall or fence. Normally, I would tell a neighbor of my plans. But she is not to be trusted.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 5:59PM
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I've been following this story, and please let me add a couple of things... One - no more letters. I have experience w/ people like this and found that everything you do or say is just more ammunition for them, or another chance to treat you abusively. I've learned the hard way to NEVER "discuss," anything within my rights with any neighbor ever again.
Two - I'd wait for the first clear chance when she or her son are gone, have a crew in there, rip out the old fence and put in a new one before she knew it. Maybe move it to the right place. See if SHE wants to spend money on a lawyer to get something that's not hers. I'd fence everything I legally could, and put barberries or hedge roses every place I couldn't. I'd do this before she could get a case together so the evidence is just gone.
She's clearly not your friend, and won't be decent. I wouldn't have even given her a copy of the survey. Let her pay for her own. These people who are too cheap to pay for their own surveys always seem to be the ones making trouble.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Next time she sets one foot on your property just plain call the cops and let her take the consequences.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 5:52AM
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Take action to protect your boundry lines. If you (or a previous owner) have allowed others to use your property for a certain length of time you sometimes lose all rights to deny them use of it, to the extent that you cannot even fence it without putting in gates for them to use. States are different on this. This even means school children taking short cuts across your yard. If they are not confronted in a certain time frame you have implied that they have your permission to use your yard. If you got a title insurance policy from title company when you purchased your house, they insured that your property was free and clear, or else informed you of previous rights of ingress or egress (whether of record or not).
When we bought our ranch in central Texas there was a 16 acre lake that the previous landowner allowed anyone to use with no special permission at all. We had a heck of a time reclaiming our privacy and many tresspassers stated that they'd enter our property anytime they damn well pleased. Fishing and hunting and we did'nt even know who they were. One man came over 150 miles just to fish on our private lake. We finally got them cleared out. Our 100% private use of the ranch was insured by the title company and if we'd not been able to keep tresspassers off legally we could have gotten paid the full value of the ranch and still retained ownership. Yes there are cases of ownership by adverse possession and while I know just enough bits and pieces to be totally confusing, I think you should stake your boundries and protect them. Any updates?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 8:07PM
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I would do what you're considering........remove the fence that's on your property and put up a new fence, or whatever it takes, to keep her off your property.

Take before photos just in case!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Update for you all: I do not want to have anything to do with this woman or her family. If I could put up a twelve foot stone wall,I would. Unfortunately, town code does not permit that so I am stuck with a privacy fence. I knew she was sneaky and not nice but what I didn't know was to what extent. She and her adult son showed their true colors this week. Luckily for me, I had my contractor over who witnessed the whole thing and was very protective of me. If he wasn't there, I don't know what would have happened.

Upon advice from attorney who I am now firing because his help and advice is worthless. If I didn't know better, I would say he knows these people. Anyway, he told me to write a "friendly" letter asking them to be a "good neighbor" and to please stop coming over the line because a letter from him would just aggravate the situation. Not the response I wanted to hear especially in light of the chemical treatment and the safety and well-being of my dog.

Okay then, I try one more time. I ask her to please be a good neighbor and respect me and my boundaries. I tell her to please stay on her side of the yard and ask her not to use my driveway. I certainly emphasized the fact that my dog got sick on Sunday and that I found massive amounts of chemical granules on my lawn, driveway, even behind my garage.

I should have listened to all of you who said not to write but to act. Her son stormed over to my house banging on my door in the evening. He was threatening and belligerent. What really got to me was his attitude towards my dog. When I told him that she got sick, his response was "So what! I really don't care." How cruel on his part. He said the survey was a "fake"; the pins in the ground were either put in by me or someone I know. Scary considering that people send their children to this man; he has a professional practice in town.

I walked away from him very upset. My contractor was in earshot of the whole thing. He went calmly over to my neighbor's house. When he told her what her son did was very wrong, and he got the response of the son of "good", my contractor read these people the riot act. They were not expecting anybody else but me at home and I think they were relying on intimidation tactics.

I documented everything; called my attorney for the last time and realized that he is useless and now am in the process of installing a fence as quickly as possible. Next time, against the advice of this attorney, I am calling the police if this man takes one step on my property.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 9:46AM
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i would also go to the PD and file for a restraining order agaisnt both of them. this will give you another weapon should they set foot on your property again.

you can only try to be civil for so long, then you have get down and dirty with them. obviously she has had use of this area long enough she does not think it is yours. time to fight back and if necessary get the courts/cops involved.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I would notify the police of what happened that evening, just so it's on the record.

Not to make life even more miserable for you, but I'd also keep close watch over the dog.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 1:27PM
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Charro, I'm sorry that you've had to deal with such a nasty situation, and I hope you and your dog remain safe through this. You sound like a good neighbor, it's a shame that you ran into your neighbors.

Press forward and get that fence up! And thank your contractor for stepping in when he didn't have to.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 2:36PM
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Charro - so sorry that this has become so dreadful. Definitely get this on the record with your local police department. Put up the no trespassing signs on your property, get your fence up and document! Stay safe!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 4:24PM
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Thanks everyone for your kind wishes. My contractor has become number one in my book. I have called him to thank him and tell him how much I appreciate him being there for me and more importantly, having the character to stand up in my behalf. He said he would be a witness if I needed him to be and said that if I ever get scared,to call him immediately. He is still mortified over the way this man spoke to me. I will recommend him highly to anyone who needs work done around the house. He is, not only a gentlemen but a superior craftsman as well.

I want so badly to call the police and put it on record but have heard from so many people that it is a waste of time. They just don't want to be bothered. Kind of sad, isn't it. I knew of one person who had a robbery in their home and knew who the perpetrators were. He had names and everything. They did nothing.

I just want my fence up so that I do not have to look at these people. I have always kept an eye on my dog but now, I am going to be extra vigilant even while walking on my property.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 4:40PM
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I am so sorry this is happening to you but you need to take action. Get a new lawyer. File a report with the police department (even if they don't do anything you will have a record should you need it in the future). How big is your town? I live in a small village and when I was having issues, I wrote several letters to the Village Manager since the police department wasn't helping. Be persistent. This is your property and you should not let a nasty neighbor take it over. I can't believe the nerve of some people!

Someone once posted this site about neighbors from he**. I was following the story about Drazen04 who had a similar situation. It took awhile but eventually she got a judge to side with her and get the nutty neighbor (who is 79 years old) to pay a fee for all the trouble caused. While the amount wasn't staggering, it did give the neighbor a message that her behavior wouldn't be tolerated.

Here is a link that might be useful: Neighbors from He** site

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 10:50PM
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I hope you don't mind if I reiterate my previous advice. Get the work done quick. If possible, when they're not home. Remove all evidence of how it looked before. Maybe have a tree ready to plant and some mulch and a birdbath or something. Then you'll be prepared for them. Any further communication to them will be in writing, and you will always, in those communications, mention what they did. Been there, and as I said, never discuss anything with them. They will always use it against you. Good luck and keep us apprised.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 3:45PM
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I too am so sorry for your troubles. Just want to make a quick point, which may or may not help. You said the attorney you worked with specializes in real estate. Real estate attorneys generally handle things like title issues, mortgage closings, etc. While they CAN handle problems like yours, I think you'd be best suited to find a litigator. Just wanted to make certain you have been talking to the "right" people. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 11:57AM
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Did you get that fence up?? Any updates?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 5:34PM
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Got a call from my landscaper today. Fence will be up in a week and a half. I can't wait.

My neighbor still stares at me from her kitchen and den windows. She does it so much that her vertical blinds are bent out of shape. It will be so nice to go out of my home and not have my every move monitored.

After the "son" incident, she had one of the neighbors mow her lawn. He was all over my driveway. I very calmly went out there and showed him where the survey pins were and asked him nicely to please not remow my section of the lawn, especially since my landscaper had done it the day before. He was totally unaware of the boundaries. Just reiterates my point of how sneaky this woman is. Since he lives on the other side of her, I let slip about the chemicals on the lawn and my dog getting sick. He has a dog also. He has not been back since. Today, the son was mowing the lawn at 8:00 in the morning. It's the first time he has been back since coming to my door. Who knows what he is up to today. I am counting the days until this fence is in.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 9:29AM
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Glad to hear that nothing bad has happened to you (or your dog) since your last update. Post some pics after the fence gets up.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 3:21PM
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Wow, I'm totally amazed at how nasty this woman and her son have been to you. That's really a shame. I'm sorry you're having this kind of problem. I'm glad to hear your fence is going up, and hope it solves these problems. I see it's been awhile since you posted last, and hope you'll update us once again. I hope and pray, for your sake, that all is well with you.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:21AM
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I'm curious to know how things went since the fence (presumably) went up...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 12:52PM
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I think the old lady and her son planted poor charro in the garden

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 2:44AM
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Yes, I would love to hear an update from her.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:34PM
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Update, please?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:26PM
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Hi, Charro
I am so sorry you are going through this. Please do report it to the police. Do not assume that they don't care. What is the worst that can happen? If the police don't care, you will know to contact your county or city office that deals with real estate boundaries. They will care. You PAID for that land and you have the right to use it without being hassled by your neighbor. If your neighbor has any chemicals spread on the lawn again, you can report her for that, too. She would be responsible for any vet bills for your poor dog.

I hope you have been out of town or doing something fun. Let us know if your new fence is still up!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 6:54PM
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Are there not laws against trespassing? I live in the country, but if you go tramping around on neighbors land without permission after being told repeatedly not to, you get arrested for trespassing and pay a hefty fine. Actually, you don't even have to be warned, but most folks will not go calling the sheriff right off the bat. I wouldn't unless someone was tearing up my land.

We have zillions of laws in this country but it seems like the only time they are enforced is when some decent folks just try to live their lives. The scoundrels get a pass.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 10:09AM
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