A Neighbor's Revenge.....

pamcrewsJune 23, 2005

I, like so many that have previously posted here don't know if this is the appropriate forum to use concerning the "neighbors".....but here goes.....

We have neighbors that moved in next door about two months ago. We did the good neighbor greet and told them if they needed anything, don't be a stranger. We even offered the use of our rider lawn mower until they purchased one.

When their 80 pound dog started roaming our backyard and using our front yard as his bathroom as well as their cat in my gardens we tried to get their attention so we could let them know. (Leash law applies) When it became obvious over a period of a couple weeks we couldn't even get a "good neighbor" wave from them we finally called animal control. Once they were notified by animal control the problem didn't stop. So we called again.

Two days ago we came home to find that they planted nine Leyland Cypress along the property line, one is on the line and another is over the line on our side. On their side of the property they have approximately a 3 foot grass strip between the property line and their driveway......on our side...our front yard with flower beds. Needless to say there is very little room for these soon to be trees to grow and they will encroach into my flower beds. Talking to them is hopeless at this point. I've contacted the county and was told it's a civil problem, hire an attorney. We have our deed which clearing states our property lines. My thought is to put up some stakes with a line down the property and then 48 hours later remove the one plant on our side and sheer off (our side) the other that is on the line. I have already told them that when the plants begin to encroach we will cut back whatÂs on our side.

Anyone else ever been in this situation? At this point it's not about the plants and any action we take will surely make matters worse. HELP!

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I might encourage these trees to become "diseased". If they're not salt tolerant, well, Morton's salt isn't too expensive. Hey, you can't mess with Mother Nature but you can help her a little.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 10:10PM
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I know I'd be really frustrated in your case. It stinks to not even be on waving terms with your neighbors but some people just can't be gotten along with. Can you install a fence just on your side of the line? If so, then that may be a good idea,,, good fences make good neighbors and all that. Then it will be blatantly obvious that the trees are a problem and that you have every right to sheer off what's encroaching into your area. Just a thought. And your post reminds me again why I need to scrounge up the money to buy the lot beside me before someone else does.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 6:12PM
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THE GOOD NEWS IS - you have legal rights and can trim any overhanging branches that hang over into your yard. Just as long as you do not kill the trees. Although I would think it would be hard to prove you actually killed them....

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 12:41PM
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Sorry I did not read your post better... I did not notice that you said there is one tree over your lot line. GET A FENCE PUT IN NOW!! If these neighbors would do something like that then they have no regards for your property at all.

I know I have a neighbor like this and I resorted to putting in a fence and it was the BEST thing I ever did. I should have put up a high privacy fence - I only did split rail because we would have needed a special permit. When this fence needs to be replaced I will do privacy.

BUT Planting something on your property is illegal. Get them to move it and then put in a privacy fence so you don't even have to look at them.

Word of experience. You will open a whole other can of worms in later years IF you do not acknowledge your property boundaries now.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 10:30AM
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Reminds me of a back neighbor that hired a licensed fence company to put up a fence. They "assumed" that the shrubs behind my chain link were on their side of the property. Turned out that I put the chain link on my side of MY shrubs that the previous owner put in (less hassle). I was out of town at the time, but got home in time to find the fence guys had cut out all my shrubs. Asked if they had checked the lot lines "noooo". OK.

A$$holes never replaced my shrubs, so I painted MY side of their fence, (their side should crap out soon) and am letting whatever jungle shrubs God wants to plant between the chain link and their fence grow to the heavens.

I considered spreading bamboo, but the lady at the bamboo nursery wouldn't sell to me after she found out what I wanted... too invasive. Yuk on her!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 11:37PM
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After reading these forums for years - I just cannot believe how many people have neighbors who do not know (and don't care) where their property boundaries are.

I really cannot believe how many neighbors have total disregard for the other neighbors property. They truly just think "oh - so and so - won't care if I plant this tree here or put up a fence right through their property.

And then you are the bad guy when you blow the whistle - totally unbelievable the nerve and stupidity of some people.

It is illegal to do this - as far as I am concerned it is stealing someone elses property and it is wrong.

Good luck all!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 4:14PM
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but if these are big trees, they may be on their side of the line now, but they'll expand outward in all directions--not to mention roots, of course.

but it is a civil matter. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 8:43PM
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I would wait until the trees are big enough and overreaching onto your property lines. Then, you can take a saw and clipper to the parts that are in your yard.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 11:38AM
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I wouldn't wait for the trees to grow. I would spend the money to pay a surveyer to stake the line for "official marking". If anything is crossed that orange line, then rip it out, you don't need permission. Then get out the code book. Most codes require clearances for fences, etc. Ask the local inspector what they are. Then I totally agree with everyone, even if it is a little border fence, Fence it off, complying to the code. Making it deeply seated will keep roots out. It will also keep the dog out.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 9:18AM
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Our local codes allow you to put a fence right on the lot line. I agree - install a fence yourself. I will never live in a house again without putting up a fence.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 12:27PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Surveying doesn't cost that much. Under a hundred dollars. Have that done so both of you will know exactly where the line is. And, like the other post, rip out what's on your side. Put up the type of fence you like when you can.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Thats why we live in the country with lots of land. We don't have to be bothered with pain in the butt neighbors.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 9:40AM
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Fence, now! Any kind of fence. Built to code standards.

There's a legal phrase that I cannot recall that has to do with allowing someone to use your property over a period of time. It can end up being their's if you allow it to happen.

Fence. Big enough to keep the animals out. Exactly to code so that they don't sue you. I would do it now, even if I had to take out a big loan.

Becuase this is a situation that is going to get worse if you don't.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 1:11PM
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The term you are looking for is Perscriptive Easement. Our neighbor did the same thing to us, though he made a concrete parking space for himself and then planted an entire garden that covered roughly 600 sq. ft. of our property. This was done over a long period of time, and over our protests (letters from attorneys, verbal demands). When I finally got fed up and put up a fence (surveyed and approved by city) and removed all his landscaping, the guy sued me! He had absolutely NO grounds, but he sued me and it cost us TENS OF THOUSANDS to fight him off.
He went through 3 attorneys who would take on his case, then drop him because he was such a moron. Meanwhile, we were paying our attorneys for all their work. The matter was finally resolved in court last month and we won, but we didn't win our money back - just the cost of putting up the fence.

I strongly urge you... Remove that tree from your property immediately! Tell him you're going to do it and then call the police as you do it. Their job is to come out and keep the peace while you take it out. Make sure you have your survey on hand to prove to them it's your property. When the tree is gone, PUT UP THAT FENCE.

In the end, the creep finally removed the concrete parking pad (as per the court's demands) but he left all the debris sitting on the walkway. The nightmare continues, but I could have stopped it had I nipped it in the bud in the beginning.

Feel free to email me if you have more questions. This kind of stuff makes my blood boil.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2005 at 6:50AM
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About a year ago, we decided to put in a new back fence, contacted a fencing co. They insisted we have a survey done and property lines marked. We looked on the original deed to our house from 1981, found the old survey, contacted the company. They were out of business but referred us to another company who took over theirs. We paid for a survey, had the property lines clearly marked. We were happy to find our property is actually a little bigger than we thought. We left the survey poles where they were. The new fence has been installed clearly on our own property. Even had some good luck. The neighbor behind us is friends with the owner of the fence company. He willingly let them come on his property to put up the new fence. We are very happy. By the way, we put up the fence because our dog had a habit of "escaping" the old one. She is now safe. We consider it money well spent. Remember Robert Frost. "Good fences make good neighbors."

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 12:36PM
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I was wondering if anyone has ever had their new fences defaced or ruined by vandalism from neighbors? Aside from the obvious destruction from spray paint, neighbors can easily destroy a fence, especially a white picket fence, by continually pushing or kicking it hard enough over time so that they start to lean over. I'm thinking of putting a fence up one day but I can't help wondering whether I have to shell out more money to straighten the fence out or worse, put up a new one.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 4:34PM
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The neighbor who tried to gain a perscriptive easment over our property had tried the same thing with a property owned by a young woman who lived along another border of his land. She put up a fence from the very beginning which he and his sons systematically destroyed by backing their trucks into it and kicking it. She had to replace the whole thing. (she could never prove that it was he)

So when we finally put up our fence to keep out the vermin, we placed large (300 lb) boulders along it as a barrier (you know, like they do at embassies and other important buildings). So instead of going after our fence, he sprayed our landscaping with Round-up, stomped on our plants, and even stole 5 of the smaller boulders (I caught him and his son in the act one morning by hiding in the bushes. Geez.) He and his sons also began a campaign of flattening our tires and other destructive things. I'm telling you, it was a nightmare. And then, he sued us! His claim was that he had gained a rightful easement to use our property as a parking space and garden by occupying it without protest from us for a period of 5 years. Thankfully, we had documented everything over the years, including digital photos which were dated. The court decided in our favor very quickly, as I mentioned above.

So, now that it's over... we're moving far away.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 12:21PM
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I grew up in a neighborhood where fences weren't needed. We never had problems with them. I know live in the country with lots of land. We do have one neighbor and he and his family are really nice folks. We use each others property. We use his to get to the fishing hole and they use are's to get to his tree stand for hunting. We don't have to ask for permission, we just do it. I couldn't amagine living next to neighbors like that.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 10:02PM
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You are all making me very thankful for the neighbors I have!

How about an update on what is going on?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 9:19PM
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I am so thankful for everyone who has shared their stories. I truly believe (and keep hoping) that there are more good neighbors out there than the bad ones. It's just that the bad ones are so..... bad.

My situation never got any better with the jerks next door. However thanks to one to many hurricanes we put the house up for sale. As it worked out we have since moved from the house and don't have to deal with the knuckleheads anymore. The other neighbors (the good ones) let us know from time to time that he's still a jerk and pretty much no one has anything to do with him. Karma.....I believe.

Thanks again all for the stories. Pam

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 9:41PM
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That is why I believe in buying as many acres as you can afford. The nearest neighbor to my house in Jersey is about 25 feet. The nearest neighbor to me in PA is 300 feet.

Good thing, as they have a howling hound and my dachshund wants to have a conversation. lol

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 6:57PM
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It is the country life for me for this very reason. I like people fine, but if you get an idiot for a neighbor you are ultimately stuck with it unless you or the idiot moves.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 8:41PM
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The other terms for the loss of one's property from its long term usage by neighbors are "adverse possession" or "squatter's rights"

It's awful what you had to go through just to protect your property. I'm glad you stuck up for yourself. Even though you're moving, what you did was worth it. Ultimately, there has to be limits placed on people's behavior. Your neighbors will probably continue to be the horrible people that they are, however, maybe they will think twice before starting trouble with the new owners of your house. You did them and the neighborhood a big favor.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 9:47PM
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You dont know how lucky you are! You have a nice expensive evergreen screen planted between the two properties- for FREE. Thats a reasonable solution on their part surely. Whats the problem? Good fences (screens) make good neighbors.
Trimming the parts of the trees over your side of the line would be like shooting yourself in the foot wouldn't it? Why would you want to make somethng which is nice look bad? Just move the other side of your flower bed a bit as needed.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 11:24PM
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Lucky? Come on Chester. Plant a row of 1 gallon, $2.97 a piece, Leyland cypress that grows at least 8-10 feet in circumference when they only have 3 feet between their driveway and their property line and then suggest I move my established flower bed?.....Maybe I should move the four 35 feet tall oak trees that are in the flower bed that will be encroached upon? And the 300 pavers that outline the flowerbed...and the hostas, the bulbs, the irises, and the ornamental grasses....shall I go on?

But I do agree that good fences/screens do make good neighbors, but not at the expense of doing it on your neighbor's property and overriding their landscaping.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 12:13AM
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Well you didnt say how big the plantings were. Given the problem of the dogs it would be a reasonablwe assumption that the trees would be a reasonable size. If they were that samll you could have trimmed them as they grew....
But its ancient history now isnt it?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 11:29PM
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Just to throw my two cents worth in, prescriptive easement and adverse possession are two seperate things. Prescriptive easment is where someone gains the right to use your land due to long term and generally acknowledged use. You still own the land and you still pay taxes on it but the easment becomes attached to the land for the use. Overhead utility lines that were put in years ago with out the proper utility easement often fall into this category. The line being there over a long period of time grants a prescriptive easment.

Adverse possession is where you lose the title to a piece of property due to open and notorious use of the land. Adverse possession requires some specific legal requirements to be met. A neighbor encroaching over the lot line would more than likley not fall into adverse possession

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 7:57PM
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our neighbors put up a privacy fence across the rear side of our yard awhile back. the old wire fence had encroached or angled into their yard about 3'for at least 21 years, way before they had moved in. the old lady who originally lived there didn't care and enjoyed the flower gardens i had planted on our side of the fence. now, not only did the new neighbors put there big fence on the property line (as is their right) but the installers smashed every plant in the established garden. coul;dn't they have waited till fall and everything had died back? were the installers responsible for the smashed plants on my side of the property line? the neighbor said 'oh well, aien't i got a pretty fence' nothing has ever grown well there since, maybe the chemicals from the pressure treating? maybe a new micro environment? the rest of the side yard has a 4' high brown chain link fence we installed 18' years ago when we started to have kids. i have built an arbor on it and have established the 4th generation of my greatgrandmother's seven sisters rose among the trellis'. what if they deceide to take their fence along that lot line?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 11:30AM
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This thread really got me to thinking. I bought my house 4 years ago, but it was built over 50 years ago. There's a redwood tree (80+ft tall) planted right on the property line, slightly more on my side than the neighbors'. The 6ft fence in the yard actually has a zig-zag in it to go around the tree -- on my neighbor's side, so at one time there had obviously been some conversation about it. Now, fifty years on, I just had the horrible thought that someone might buy my neighbor's house and decide that they want back the part of their yard that the tree is on! I guess it would only be fair, but what a shame it would be to cut down that magnificent tree! Of course, since it's been there so long, maybe it would be considered one of those easement thingies....

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 6:51PM
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To PBSJones: Don't know where you live but in my area if you want to take out a tree with a trunk over 10" in diameter (I think), you have to file a request with the city's "Heritage Tree" bureau: they send out notices to everyone in the area giving them an opportunity to raise a complaint on the removal of the tree. If you cut down a tree like this without going thru the permit process, there are heavy-duty fines.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 4:03PM
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