A Czech proverb has it that a good neighbor adds value to your property. But looking at all your neighbor’s stuff on your property, the terms ‘good neighbor’ and ‘value to your property’ are relative. What you see is blatant violation of property boundaries.
When a neighbor invades your property, you can take different actions depending on the infringement. For example, if your neighbor puts a fence or stuff on your property, you have a boundary dispute.
The first logical step to dealing with this issue is to communicate with your neighbor and compare the copies of your deeds to check where the boundary should be. If the deeds do not give precise information, you should both agree to pay for a surveyor.
Can I Move Neighbors Stuff Off My Property? The Logical thing to do
Once you determine where the boundary is, your neighbor should move their stuff if found infringing on your property.
If they refuse to move, you can try mediation. However, it would be best if you didn’t take the law into your own hands by throwing their stuff away.
How to Deal With Your Neighbor’s Pets
Wandering or unleashed pets can litter your property with poop and can also cause damage to your property.
Different cities provide different ordinances that cover how to keep pets and when they need to be unleashed.
If the animal is dangerous or has hurt someone, its owner is by law held liable for any damage or injury. Additionally, they may get a court order to confine the animal.
What You Can Do About Your Neighbor’s Trees
Sometimes you may have your neighbor’s tree branches hanging over your fence or breaking and falling into your yard. Or the roots are pushing onto your property.
Unfortunately, most states allow neither party to destroy the tree if it is on the boundary.
Pods, acorns, or leaves that fall onto your property are a natural occurrence and are your responsibility as the property owner to clear.
However, if branches that fall for reasons other than an act of God or storm cause damage, your neighbor is liable for the damage and cleanup.
Roots pushing through into your property are an encroachment, just like other stuff or fences. Therefore, by law, the tree owner should remove such roots.
What to do if Your Neighbor Trespasses
Trespassing is the most outrageous boundary-crossing. It means that a person has made a path through your yard. For instance, you may find them fishing, picnicking, or hunting on your property without permission in rural areas.
Trespassing carries a criminal penalty, and when your neighbor is doing something dangerous or offensive while on your property, call the police to deal with them.
You can also file a police report. Photos and statements from people who witnessed the ordeal will come in handy. The court will fine your neighbor or order them to stay away from your property.
What is Encroachment?
An encroachment is when someone else puts up any structure that invades your property. For example, it could be a shed that is slightly on your property or a house addition that ends up in your space.
You can decide to do nothing about your neighbor’s encroachment if it doesn’t bother you.
By doing this, you preserve goodwill with your neighbor. However, if you ever need to sell the property, it is essential to disclose this encroachment to potential buyers to consider the issue in the purchasing decision.
Solutions for Encroachment
There are a couple of ways to deal with encroachment. But before doing anything, ensure you know exactly where your property boundaries are. This helps you challenge your trespassing neighbor confidently.
- Begin by talking to your neighbor about the encroachment. They may reason with you and move the structure, or you may both agree on an arrangement that works. Resolving neighbor disputes outside the court saves both of you legal fees, time, and the stress of going to court. If you decide to allow the encroachment, back it up with written permission, allowing your neighbor to use your property. This document prevents adverse possession claims that may arise later.
- When your neighbor is not cooperative and refuses to or cannot remove the encroachment but is open to resolving the problem, you may sell them the encroached-upon property. This option allows you to get money for losing your property and accords your neighbor the right to use the land. However, before the sale, it is advisable to inform your mortgage lender to ensure the land records are up to date and accurate. You can visit a real estate attorney in your area to help you get the necessary documents in order.
- Your last resort should be the court. When all other options fail, this may be the only way to yield results. Here, you will need to prove ownership of the property and your neighbor’s improper use of your property. To prove ownership, you need a quiet title action and an ejectment action to prove improper use of your property. The ejectment action is a long process, and it strains your overall relationship with your neighbor. You may lose when your neighbor succeeds in an adverse possession action after encroaching on your land for a while. Also, the court may grant him a prescriptive easement which is the right to limited use of your property.
Property disputes are bound to go south in an attempt to resolve them. This is because they are such delicate matters.
The resolution process becomes almost volatile because of the tremendous amounts of money needed and the emotional attachment of both parties to the property.
For a smooth process, it is advisable to get expert help from a talented real estate lawyer.
A lawyer can also guide you on the best remedies to deal with encroachment before going to court.
Also, the law grants that encroachments constructed less than five years ago must be removed. But if they have existed for over five years, the process becomes complicated; another reason to need an attorney.