What would you do?

kimcocoJune 20, 2008

I couldn't find a "neighbor" forum...

I want to preface this with the fact that we are very considerate, friendly, go-out-of-our-way to help neighbors kind of people, and do our best to keep up the neighborly relations with those around us.

We have 6-month new neighbors behind us. They seem nice enough, but the guy seems a little anal retentive about property lines. Nothing wrong with establishing property lines, but he's trying to get all of his surrounding neighbors to go in on a "group" survey of all our properties so he can get a discount (I think it's more of a money issue with him). I don't particularly need a property survey because I have the blueprints that came with my house and a property marker in the back, so I know exactly where my property lines are. He has informed me that he was told he has X amount of time to establish his property lines with his surrounding neighbors before he loses right to that property (if another neighbor were encroaching on his property), though I truly believe that he's just being overly particular and this is his excuse for knit-picking with neighbors (if you don't like the closeness of small lots, then don't purchase a small lot!), and from a legal standpoint, when you purchase a home what's in the deed IS legally your property, and yes, I'm aware that from a legal standpoint there are many arguments and loopholes in the matter...I've read a lot of the stories. In short, I think he has too much time on his hands and is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Let me explain...

He was commenting to me about one of his neighbors who has hostas growing on or near his property line. We are on really small lots - less than 1/4 acre - basically on top of your neighbors, and he's complaining about a matter of a couple of inches. Not from a standpoint that he wanted to do something with those two inches or that those two inches were interfering in any way, it was just a simple matter of property lines. And, he also mentioned the fact that he doesn't have access to his neighbors side of the garage because the neighbors fence cuts in and attaches to his garage - obviously at the approval of a previous owner, one can only assume. Those neighbors were here long before he came along. My only comment that I want to add here is I don't understand why someone would make an issue out of these things 6 months after purchasing the property, and knowing exactly what neighbors fences may have encroached your property when you put an offer on the home, you knew what you were bidding on, and then make a stink about it 6 months after you've purchased the property. I certainly didn't make my other neighbor detach the portion of their fence from the back of my garage - it was there when I bought the place. It's still my property, and I'm sure my neighbors know that. I don't have to make them remove it for them to realize what is or isn't mine.

So, I showed him where the property marker was behind each of our garages, but he still seems intent on getting a survey done of his property. He has every right to do so - doesn't really concern me.

So, behind my garage, where his garage butts next to my own, I "own" a small portion of the property. I too have the fence along the back of my property cut in and attach to my garage. We had installed a gate back there so we could still have access to our property behind the garage for repairs, storage, etc. City ordinance states that he is not allowed to block my access to my property, though I may have to encroach on his in order to access my own. He has not blocked access to my property, so that's not the issue at hand - just trying to establish the facts here. Likewise, if he had to make repairs on the back of his garage, he would likely step on my property - garages are that close in proximity. No big deal.

When we installed the fence a couple of years ago, we had some problems with neighborhood kids climbing up the fence and on top of our garage roof. Keep in mind the neighbors property behind us is elevated, and our garage is at the bottom of the slope, so though our fence is only 4 1/2 feet in height, the top of the fence actually sits just below the roof line of our garage - the fence is situated on the higher portion of our property. This makes it easy enough for anyone to climb on top of the fence and scale the garage roof. So, the local police suggested that we plant a japanese barberry back there, along the back of my garage where the fence meets up with it, as a deterrent (they are very prickly shrubs).

When the new owners moved in, not knowing whether they are planning to have children or not, I offered to cut it down if they wanted me to - obviously people with kids are probably not going to want a prickly shrub next to their property, understandably. They declined my offer, and I agreed to keep it trimmed back - so it is level with my fenceline - i.e. so it doesn't protrude past our property line. I go out there regularly to prune it back, but of course I get the occasional comment about how when he uses his push mower he gets scratched by it (and in the same breath he will comment that his wife loves them). I actually gave them two more barberries from my property that they planted along the same fenceline, but the opposite end of the yard from my garage. They accepted those readily.

So today I was talking to him and mentioned that I cut the barberry back today again (it's the growing season) - I make sure it doesn't protrude from our property line, but I keep it growing vertically - so it reaches the top of my 4 1/2 foot fence and higher to deter trespassers. He then tells me, as he's pointing at my barberry and then his two (that I gave to them) that he wants to trim them all into a round shape.

Ok, so I offered, in the past, that if they needed to trim them BACK (to my fenceline), feel free to do so. What I did not offer is for them to "shape" them into a shape that they prefer to look at, or to adjust the height at all.

At this point, he's just plain getting on my nerves - I gave them every opportunity to tell me if they wanted it removed, and they declined, and yet now he's acting like this is his property to do what he wants with. My husband suggested that I just cut it down so we can avoid any conflict, while others have suggested that I leave it if it's just on my property, and that it's not his place to "round off" the shape of my shrub. I know that if he decides to cut it into a round shape I'm going to get really peeved because it will negate the whole reason for planting it there in the first place. My husband "argues" that they are the ones who have to look at it. My arguement is yeah, but just because I don't like the way a neighbor shapes their plants doesn't give me the right to shape it for them, and if he is so set on establishing property lines, well then what's wrong with us doing the same? It IS our shrub and it IS on our property, though it is on the other side of our fence, and it is in their plain view (though it is a pretty shrub).

I'm beginning to feel that he is doing this just for the simple fact that he is so anal about property lines, but I don't want him to get comfortable with trying to claim what is rightfully mine either. Nor do I want to feel like I'm being bullied into cutting it down. He has two other barberries there that I gave him, and they gladly accepted. What gives?

Just looking for the viewpoints of others in this matter - and venting in the process, of course.

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This is nonsense. It's your bush, and just because he has nothing to do with himself is no reason for you to let yourself get sucked into all of it. Do whatever the heck you want with the thing and tell him to leave you and your property alone. Who cares what he fusses about? Don't you have anything better to do than wrack your brains over a bush?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 5:48AM
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I don't have any advice, other than stick to your guns. There is a neighbor at one of our rental houses that sounds like your neighbor, just b*thching and moaning about anything and everything, and it escalated into them being a most obnoxious pia. So I feel for you if it escalates or continues. It's a complete waste of energy. My crazy rental neighbor has complained about everything from a particular weed in her yard that 'comes over from our side of the fence' (good grief and a big *rolleyes*, I'm anal about lawns and keep that rental lawn impeccable, so told her she'd have to deal with her own weeds) to raccoons that live at the back of our rental property lawn that gleefully and with malicious intent sneak over to her house at night and taunt her by tearing up her non-lidded trash (it's a rural area). She acts as if I have the wildlife trained. I ignored her initial bizarre rantings until she pulled a stunt with the property line that got kind of ugly. I have lots more stories even more outrageous, but won't use the space here on her. Suffice it to say the woman's a fruitcake with way too much time on her hands. Here's a link to a board that was offered in a different post here awhile back. Those folks have seen it all (and it's pretty sad the kind of folks out there, makes me grateful for my own good neighbors), but if you need their help for future reference, they seem to know all the ins and outs of dealing with neighbor situations that get extreme. NFH message board.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 6:40AM
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I don't see what the big deal is. Just tell him your don't want it trimmed into a round shape, that you prefer a more natural shape. BTW, barberry is considered an invasive in many places and shouldn't be planted at all.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 9:30PM
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Good fences make good neighbors. Robert Frost. We were burned by neighbors in Michigan and here in Texas everyone keeps to themselves. Make your friends somewhere else.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Let him get his property surveyed if he wants to. If the bush is on your property, just keep it clipped back so it serves its purpose. Why are you talking to him so much? Avoid him and let him stew about whatever is bugging him.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 8:06PM
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personally i would tell him to pound sand. you offered in teh past to do something about it and he showed no concern. you wan tit to grow high, and as long as their are not local ordinances/hoa restrictions governing the height, you can grow it how you wish.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 12:40PM
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I would cut it down ... you offered once ... then you don't have this problem .. and it won't become more of an issue. He obviously has a screw loose .. and the bush WILL become an issue.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 2:18PM
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"City ordinance states that he is not allowed to block my access to my property, though I may have to encroach on his in order to access my own."

This is beyond me. Perhaps the seller/real estate agent did not reveal all facts to him. In my state a survey for closing for a title company is worthless in Court according to the Registrar.

Just paid for a new property line survey to satisfy a rent 2 own neighbor. No big deal.

I do not like pushy folks, nor any busybody types. I thought only old women gossip? WRONG.

Try to make peace.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 10:25PM
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I would take one more opportunity to point out to him exactly where the property line is, and perhaps even go so far as to put down a line of marking paint or some stakes. While the paint is visible take some photographs of the area and make sure he has a copy in his hands as you discuss it. I would make it very clear that the shrubs are yours, that you like them that way, and that they are not his to shape.

Then ignore him from then on.

If he continues to cause a problem I would set something along my back line to remind him of its ownership- a row of railroad ties or something.

Or just move the fence to four inches inside your line.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:33AM
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Or just move the fence to four inches inside your line.

around here in MOST places you can put it ON the line. if i moved it at all i would get that clarification from teh local board and then put it where they say i could. if it can go on the line, then right on it is where i would put it not giving up so much as 1 inch.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 4:37PM
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I would be very careful of this neighbor. After I paid for another survey, which clearly proved they were over my property line, they became more hostile. Despite their promises to have a survey of their own done, they never had a survey done. Actions speak much louder then words.

I feel you are dealing with a person trying to create trouble.

As for string on a property line, please make certain it is highly visible. Tell your neighbor where the string is. Please do not create a trip wire.

They may sue you if they or a family member trips and falls on your property.

I would stay away from them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:27PM
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Some communities have dispute settlement committees. They go by different names. I think there are no lawyers involved, just civic minded people who want to see disputes settled amicably and at little or no cost. If you're fortunate enough to have access to such a resource, I would try to take advantage of it.

Sometimes an impartial third party can take some of the emotion out of the issue and reach a solution that everyone can live with.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 9:35AM
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It's not about the bush. You could cut it to the ground and a week later something else would be his next Big Issue. This guy is just a bully with education. I agree with the suggestion to keep the bush clipped back to reasonably inside your property line. Let him mow carefully. Otherwise ignore him. I don't like to hide behind men (and I'm assuming you're female) but in my experience it is sometimes just easier all around for a guy like this to meet and greet and shake hands (very firmly) with another male on your side of the line.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:44AM
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I have similar neighbors. Seemed nice at first but LOOK OUT! I just ignore them completely. I don't even wave or nod when they are out in the yard anymore.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 6:16AM
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Rileysmom, you are too funny. My husband has HUGE arms, some people are really intimidated by him - little do they know he's the sweetest teddy bear in the world. :)

I have to agree with most everyone - I have been ignoring him (I do say hi to his wife - she seems sweet enough). He asked us a few times to go out with him and his wife for a couple of drinks, but I told my husband he'll probably try to hit us up for money for a property survey. LOL We keep putting them off - he's not someone I really care to get to know any further than I already have. Seems he's conniving and rather passive aggressive. I don't trust him or his motives.

I went behind my garage today, first time since I posted the last info, and they took a mound of dirt probably about 10 inches high, and blatantly put it directly in front of my wood pile, dead center!!!!! There is plenty of room for them to place it closer to THEIR garage, but nope, they had to plop it directly in front of my woodpile, which IS technically their property, but how rude and inconsiderate.

I just can't understand why anyone would want to be so blatantly rude like that with neighbors. If I have to move the dirt pile to access my wood pile, I will. If they have a problem with that, so be it.

It's so funny because my neighbors to the north and south of us are fantastic. We all have problems with the neighbors to the west of us, but both my north and south neighbors get a double dose because they also have probems with the neighbors on the other side of them. So, we all vent to eachother...and we aren't the "gossipy" type at all, but we can't believe what whacked out neighbors are surrounding us.

Aside from the people behind me, the people next to them - who happen to be ATTORNEYS no less (kitty corner from me) have stolen from my woodpile and bragged to the previous owners about it! I had to plaster a large sign on the back of my garage that reads "PRIVATE PROPERTY" and I strategically placed it in direct view of their window. Those same people got upset with my neighbor to the south because she cut down her pine trees on her own property - the attorney said she didn't want the trees removed because this was her backyard "zen"... (can you say whacko?). Then plant your own trees on your own property!

Then there's the "fruit of the earth" retired couple to the south of my southern neighbor, and he insisted that she put a gate smack dab in the middle of her fenceline along the side of her driveway (from his back deck to her driveway in the back yard) because "he always had access to her property in the past"..... He actually has her move HER car out of HER driveway, so he can cart his lawnmower down her driveway to get to his front lawn. He's on a corner lot, he has sidewalks on both sides of his property - he can only travel one direction with the lawn mower? I don't get it. He comes back up the other side of his property. Why can't he go down the same way? No reason, other than the fact that he's a freak.

Then, there's the tree hugger (and no offense to anyone, b/c I'm a tree hugger too) who refuses to do anything with his lawn or his property for that matter (garage is falling apart), he's on the other side of my northern neighbors, and he first refused to remove a woodpile that leans up against their fence that is about 36" into their property line. Tree hugger (I'll refer to him as T.H.) thinks his woodpile should be "grandfathered in" because it's been there so long (my northern neighbors have been there since this past winter). They asked him two months ago to move it, and all they get are stall tactics. They asked to move it FOR him, and he comes up with every reason under the sun not to. They have a property survey that clearly shows he's 36" over their property line - that's not the worst part. The reason they asked him to move it is because their fence, that they own, is practically falling over - clearly because of the woodpile that stands all the way to the top of it. The fence leans WAY in, and the only way they can dig out the posts is to have him move the woodpile.

I can't believe how patient they are - I don't know if I would have waited this long.

T.H. moves like a turtle, and seems like he has little or no motivation to do anything, and doesn't seem very handy to begin with. So, out of genuine kindness, we offered to help T.H. install a gate on his fenceline in the back yard so he can have direct access to the back of his garage where he SOMEDAY plans to move the woodpile. We installed a gate on the back of our fence, and it took us maybe a couple of hours maximum. Well, T.H. went and got a hinge and some screws, my husband did some cutting for him, and then T.H. decided that he had to wait until he calls his chemist friend to find out if the zinc plated screws are going to have a reaction to the galvanized steel hinge before he proceeds any further. Are you fricken kidding me????? I swear, this is not an exaggeration. My husband was so peeved as he's standing there getting eaten alive by mosquitos in his yard because the grass and everything else growing there stands at least a foot tall due to no maintenance. T.H. has told me that he likes to do things "a little at a time so that I can figure out what I'm doing wrong before I do it"

The next time T.H. asked us to "help" him with the gate in the back was on the 4th of July. ?????? Yeah, because I always spend my holidays installing gates for my neighbors. Again, I think he just wanted to ACT like he's motivated to follow through, though every other day there's a stall tactic. I mean, can you possibly pick a more inconvient day?

T.H. is recently divorced. Need I say more?

Then there's the lady behind my northern neighbors who is in cahoots with T.H. (late night meandering over to his property with her poodle tucked under her arm), and she doesn't want my northern neighbors to install a 4 1/2 foot fence at the back of their property line because it will prevent sunlight from reaching her garden. My neighbor had to stand at the property line in the early morning hours, and he's 6 foot tall, to show her that a 4 1/2 foot fence is not going to prevent much sunlight from her yard - she'll have full sun from noon on!

She also wants them to plant a blueberry shrub in the back so she can enjoy the fruit (but she wants them to put it on their property). LOL

T.H. also came over to our house one day and saw that we were getting a wrought-iron electric gate installed. They had JUST installed the post that day, and by looking at it with clamps still on it to stabilize it, you could clearly see that it was in the process of setting in concrete. T.H. walked up to it right in front of me, grabbed the post with both hands and with movement from his entire body he started an attempt to "wiggle" the post - his whole body jiggling with movement ????? - I thought I was watching a 5 year old child seeing a new toy for the first time. I said excuse me please don't do that - the post was just set in concrete today - can you see the clamps they used to stabilize it for the interim??????

The next time he stopped by, they hadn't installed the control arm yet for the gate. They soldered a piece of metal that the arm was going to be attached to, and since our gate swings outward, it protrudes outward on the opposite side of the gate, facing the street. My husband is in the yard, T.H. is on the opposite side of the gate. My other neighbor's dog starts barking, and T.H. asks if he can stand on the metal that they just soldered on, so he can take a look at the dog. ????????????????? Um, no, my gate is not a jungle gym to be climbed.

Then the next time he stopped over, same thing, I was commenting to my husband about a bunny rabbit in the neighbors yard, T.H. tried to fit his foot between the spokes of our gate so he could elevate himself. ?????????????? Nope, still not a toy to climb.

Let me just say that the reason he is always on the other side of the gate is simply because we haven't had the key pad installed yet, and our gate openers were in the house. We keep the gate closed for our dogs. But, him being on the other side of the gate I think is a good thing!

In the winter months, he knows when my husband is traveling because I'll be the one snowblowing the property during snowfall. So, he'll come over and start a conversation with me, like, did you hear so and so is selling their house? Yes, I did. And he'll say, "why don't you come over later and we'll discuss it further?" Ummmmmmm.....I'm busy, thanks anyway. I told my husband if I ever disappear, that's the first place to look! LOL

What can you do but chuckle? We've been calling our neighborhood "The 'Burbs" It only gets more and more interesting. Hey, I'll post again when the woodpile is finally moved! LOL

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:36AM
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OMG- I just realized where my PIA neighbor moved-- Next to you! ;) At least he's not sitting on his front steps with a glass of whiskey staring at your house. Yet. It takes extra special determination to ignore some people, LOL. I agree with the other posters that this guy will ALWAYS have something to complain about. Keep to your own property and ignore the jerk. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 12:21AM
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I agree, there needs to be a neighbor forum. Sounds like you live in my neighborhood. My front neighbor came over the other day, through the hedge on this little "path" he's created for himself to say "what are you doing". I explained to him that we just finished planting seeds in one garden bed, and pointed to it, then told him we were in the process of planting seeds in the other one. Not two seconds later he was walking over and stepping in my freshly planted beds (clay soil, compacts easily, just spent four hours with a pick and shovel and fert. getting it nice and fluffy). I nearly killed him. His little boy is constantly banging on the fence between our houses. He lets his kid ride his bike up and down our driveway, which is sorta ok, we do have a long driveway, but then doesn't get the kid to the side when I come home. Just stands at the top of MY driveway and waves at my while his little psycho brat rides down the drive, and onto my flowers. I just keep praying for them to find a house they like better and move there!
Oh yeah, and they won't trim their tree that falls over the fence and drops little black berries that are poison and stain everything but when we tell them that we will trim it straight up the fence line they get mad. And their rotten tangerine tree is always dropping nasty fruit on my driveway. Same thing. The other neighbors asked if we minded their peach tree hanging over the fence and we said no, because we like the peaches. But we pick them all, and so do they, and we both pick up the rotten fruit (not that there's much).

Ignore your crazy neighbor, that's what I try to do. Best of luck. It's the hardest thing in the world to do.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:56PM
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Whoa... you have rights you know, like the one in place just about everywhere that says any part of someone's trees/bushes, etc. overhanging your property is your right to chop at the fenceline, so while it may be a nuisance, you can't complain too loudly if you don't deal with that. And as for your neighbours coming onto any part of your property - you can get all kinds of injunctions, etc. to keep that from happening too - have you looked into it?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 5:09PM
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