fencelines, surveys and neighbors. Advice??

youngdebJune 24, 2007

This is a long one...x-post from Patios/Decks Forum.

I started talking to my next-door neighbor about extending my existing fence line that runs from our detached garage along my driveway, on her side of our property. I want to extend it another 20 feet so my kids can use the space...we live in a pretty urban place where I can't let them run around the front yard (it's also a pretty busy street.) Basically, I just want to fence in more of my driveway, not touch her property at all.

She is very resistant to the idea, and at one point threatened to sue me. That's when I stopped communicating with her and called a surveyor. Before my guys had a chance to come, she put in some new irrigation along the driveway and a bunch of new plants next to her house.

The surveyors came and marked out the property Friday, and I returned from a weekend trip to a note on my front door threatening to sue if I put up a fence. I was also threatened with pit bulls and a dog run in that space (in the 3 feet she has on that side of her house.) Finally, I was threatened with a regular dose of obscenity-laden rap through her windows.

The really crazy thing is, now that she's landscaped it, it looks really nice and I was planning to put in a 3-foot picket that the kids can't get through but you can see through...you wouldn't even be able to see the fence from her windows...her house sits a bit higher than mine. The impact on her is really incredibly small.

So the marker on the sidewalk seems to indicate that not only do I have plenty of room for a fence, but that her new irrigation is now on MY property. And I'd have to remove it to get my fence on my property. Sigh.

I'm now thinking that the picket's a bad idea in the end, since I have no idea what kind of care she's going to take of that space once I put up the fence. I saw her today and tried to speak to her, but she ignored me. I asked if she wasn't speaking to me and she spat "YES!" and stormed into her house...so having a grownup to grownup dialogue about this is apparently not an option.

Any advice from those of you with neighbor problems on how I should navigate this? City code says I can go as high as 8 feet, but that just seems awful and unnecessary.

Also, is there any time limit on encroachment that would give her the right to keep the irrigation on my property? Meaning, if I can get the fence in without removing her irrigation, do I ever lose the option to have her move it?

Thanks in advance, guys!

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1) Any real threats about pits, etc. should be told to the police.
2) Get her irrigation and anything else off your property. It's YOUR property!
3) Put up whatever fencing you want - it's YOUR property!
4) Speak to your local munipal officers to find out exactly what your rights are in disputes, and what they aren't.
My only question is about your first line- "MY existing fence line .... driveway, on HER side of our property" - are you saying that you've encroached on her property to begin with? It's a little confusing as to what you meant there.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 6:51AM
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ItÂs too bad about your neighbour  IÂve had my share of problems neighbours, myself. Do you know her reason for being so upset about you putting a fence on your own property? It sounds like sheÂs trying to bully you into doing what she wants; but since it is *your* property (and youÂve had it surveyed), and *you* want the fence, then I would put up the fence.

Good luck  I hate to say it, but it sounds like youÂre going to need it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:33AM
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send her a certified letter informing her that she has 30 days to remove the irrigation from your property or you will remove it and charge her for it. FOLLOW THRU WITH THIS!

if you wna tthe fence, then put it up. if SHE does anythign to stop you or damage the fence, then get the cops involved.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 10:31AM
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I agree with the above. You need to exercise your property rights. She likely put in the irrigation knowing it was on your property, and now is giving you the bully treatment to intimidate you.
You need to get this cleared up as it will come up to haunt you when you ever re-sell the house!
Get her stuff off your property! I have a neighbor that also has issues with this. What is the deal with these folks!
Also, do not contact your neighbor directly again, do so through lawyers and law enforcement authorities. Keep a log of the threats and make sure you tell enforcement agencies about them.
People can get psycho.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 10:38AM
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What kind of survey did you have? I only ask as your state may require a certain survey like a boundary line survey to be legally admissable in a Court. Most mortgage company surveys are not admissable. You probably have a perfectly legal survey if you told them why you needed it. I would double check. Good luck dealing with this person. It sounds like she is just reluctant to any change. I would provide here with a copy of the survey and nicely state that she is free to have her own survey done. Don't tell her to go find the original markers as they could be the metal rods that were buried below the soil. She might start digging to find them. Unless you have found survey tree markings, the metal rods that were driven into the ground and slightly buried, stakes, or the other survey markers. I would avoid that subject.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 7:10AM
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She can't sue you if you build a fence on your own property. That's just an empty threat issued by a person who hasn't a clue.

Second, absolutely make her remove the irrigation. If you leave it there, it will eventually become your problem. For example, what if it starts to leak and she demands you fix it because it's on your property? Then you'll have to explain in court why you did nothing about it when you knew it was on your property. And depending on the adverse possession laws in your area, leaving it for as little as 5 years can render that segment of your property hers.

Plus, as a bonus, it'll fix her good for being such an a-hole.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 1:11PM
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You were nice enough to want to first discuss extending your fence with her BEFORE doing it and she reacts like a psycho by encroaching on YOUR property. She is the one who needs a lawsuit filed against her.

I agree with lucy and davidandkasie. Get the law on your side and get the irrigation off of YOUR property ASAP.

"City code says I can go as high as 8 feet, but that just seems awful and unnecessary."

Unnecessary? She has proven she is not only going to be unreasonable, but will take YOUR property if she can? I would want as big fence as the law allows to keep this bullying, trespassing, potty mouthed neighbor out of my sight. Damn her nice flowers and landscaping. Take a pic of them before she has to rip them out and put something similar on YOUR side of your new 8 ft (stockade?!) fence.

Personally, it would give me pleasure to see the look on her face when the city forces her to PAY to have her irrigation removed from YOUR property. Have witnesses around when this happens so she doesn't "bother" any more of your yard than she already has while this is being done.

I hope you saved the snotty note she left on your door. Are you in good standing with the neighbors on the other side of her? They may complaints about her as well. That would be useful if you ever have to go to court.

A link that might be useful:
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors à But What About A Bad Fence?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 11:56AM
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You do what you want on your property. As long as it conforms to the code, she can't do anything to ultimately effect it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 4:58PM
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Just to follow up on this...

This got extremely nasty - she refused to meet with me, and would only email, which is a terrible communication channel. She kept threatening me with lawyers, but I have to imagine given the number of vile emails she sent me that she never really talked to one...any lawyer would have ixnay'd the emails immediately. I kept my end positive and tried to be productive, but honestly, I never got any mileage out of my restraint.

Bottom line, she's moved the irrigation, but only after tons of histrionics ("I'm afraid to go on vacation because you might burn down my house!" Not kidding, folks.) She's moving her side yard plantings to the back yard next week. She's also planning to put lights up on the side of her house...I can only hope they're on a motion detector. I'm out of patience with her, and will call Building and Safety if she does anything I think is outside of code. But I know that will start the deluge of abuse all over...

It's been awful...I would never wish this on anyone. I've totally lost any enthusiasm for the fence at this point.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 12:57PM
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What a horrible situation. You can never win when you are dealing with someone that is mentally off like your neighbor apparently is. I would probably do what ever you want regarding the fence. If you donÂt have a family lawyer, get one. I would have your lawyer send her a certified letter stating that you are going to build a fence and that if she has any issues with the fence or any other matter concerning your property, that she deal directly with your lawyer. Most sensible people know that after getting a letter like the above, that you are not playing around and take the matter very seriously.

You should also call the police if she is making threats to you. Once you document that the threat is real, you may have grounds to get a restraining order against her. And if she violates that, off to jail she goes and good bye nutty neighbor.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 2:16PM
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Emailing is actually a good channel of communiction - because you now have a paper trail! ta-da!!!

Keep every email in case you need them for legal action later. This person is an overreacting psycho.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 2:33PM
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klimkm wrote: "Emailing is actually a good channel of communiction - because you now have a paper trail! ta-da!!!"

Good idea. We made an offer on a house but the deal went sour. The seller tried to sue. Our emails saved our bacon!

"It's been awful...I would never wish this on anyone. I've totally lost any enthusiasm for the fence at this point."

I'd put the fence up anyway. City code says you can build it 8 ft high? Would this be tall enough to block out the lights she is planning to put up?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 4:43PM
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There may be town regs on lights shining into other properties. I would look it up ahead of time.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 3:28PM
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