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skfinkel's avatar

Neighbor problem over boundary line. Good fences make good neighbors?

Asked by skfinkel (13483points) August 23rd, 2013

I feel like I have been here before. Neighbor moved into house next door, but this is the country—we each have an acre. We are separated by a 10 foot deeded county path. However, he is acting like my line is his boundary, and is ignoring the county line and the ten feet. Wouldn’t be a problem except that he said I cut down a tree that was his, and it wasn’t. So, I don’t want to have a bad situation with this guy, even though he seems very aggressive (pulls out county markers indicating his own property line and put huge market on mine, for example).
Question is: what to do? Should I write him a letter saying I don’t want a problem with him (we don’t know each other), and explaining about the county line (can’t believe he doesn’t know it’s there…), or write the county and get permission to leave those markers in—and trim trees on county property—(of course it’s the Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound view), and copy him the permission letter, or offer to vacate the property, and we each take 5 feet (probably will increase our taxes). Just so annoying to have this stupid situation, and life is really too short. What I do know, sadly, is that if I ignore it, he will be able to claim the whole ten foot line—and it’s quite big. Advice?

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17 Answers

Pachy's avatar

Others will probably disagree with me, but my advice would be, if possible, to ignore the situation and stick to your own acre. I believe anything you try to do at this point will simply escalate to harder and harder feelings.

If you were friendly neighbors you might have a chance, but considering that you aren’t (and not likely to become so) and that he’s already demonstrated aggressiveness and obstinacy—and especially since other than the tree-cutting incident his encroaching on the country path really doesn’t impact you—I think I’d let it go.

snowberry's avatar

You may have to get the county involved, at least. Maybe someone could provide for you a copy of the rules regarding deeded property, and the rights of adjacent property owners. It would be a shame to have to hire an attorney.

However, if he starts treating people badly for using the public path, putting a fence across it, etc. then you can just sic the county on him and let them tell him what’s what. Come to think of it, it’s probably illegal to pull out the markers like he did. Call the county and show them, with photos.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would try to be direct and friendly… First. If he wants things to get nasty, I would have no problem “taking the gloves off” so-to-speak and getting the county involved.

Something like: “Hi, I’m @gorillapaws, and I didn’t want us to get off on a bad foot. I brought you some cookies that I baked… Anyways, about that tree. I wanted to reassure you that I would never go onto your property and cut down one of your trees. The reason I cut it down is because of this 10’ provision… I’d really like us to be great neighbors… Please don’t hesitate to call if you ever need something, or go out of town and wanted someone to grab your mail for you… etc.”

Good luck. You catch more flies with honey as they say.

skfinkel's avatar

Thanks for your answers—each so different, and yet each so plausible—functional and reasonable. I am tempted to do each one. And for some reason, your answers have made me feel better—since whatever I do, it will make sense. Thanks!

dabbler's avatar

I like @snowberry‘s idea, the county has an interest in keeping rights-of-way open and can be an objective ally in this struggle. Your neighbor has no right staking the path as his own.

susanc's avatar

Hi darling. I think you owe it to this guy to speak to him. You don’t really know if he even understands about the ten-foot path. I have a neighbor who didn’t understand about easements and pushed her stuff right up to the edges of the shared driveway, in such a way that a very wide truck SUCH AS A FIRE TRUCK would not be able to get past her fence without destroying it. That would be hard for me, you see, because then my house would burn down (if it were on fire). I did have to get the county to send her a letter explaining this, because she wasn’t about to listen to annoying Me.
But when I did that, she moved her fence. Without talking to me. We aren’t friends. You and that fool next to you aren’t going to be friends either. But you can be polite till he gets the picture. And then return to ignoring him afterwards. xoxoxo

skfinkel's avatar

Thanks, @susanc. Crazy world, n’est-ce pas?

Supacase's avatar

There should be a surveyer’s map on file with the county. If not, ask the county to do a property line assessment or hire your own surveyer’s for official documentation of both property lines and the county path. Send him a copy. Take pictures before he has a chance to take the markers down or even photograph/video the actual survey.

jca's avatar

Please post an update, if you wish, with what you opted to do and how things turned out.

Thank you.

The Update Lady

skfinkel's avatar

@jca: I am planning to call the county on Monday and see if they will send him a letter. There is a survey, and I went on Friday with the survey guy and another person to get it clear, but my neighbor and his wife want nothing to do with it—they were shouting at us that I had cut their tree—which was clearly not the case. They don’t want to know where the line is. My hope is that the county will take some interest—but even the survey guy said I should just measure ten feet from my line when I want to see the county property.
Will let you know what happens.

snowberry's avatar

If they are this twitchy about the path, what if you- or better yet a couple of friends- drove down it in golf carts?

“Oh, hi Mrs. Fancy Pants! What? Well sure I can drive here. It’s public access!”

skfinkel's avatar

oh I would love to do that—but it’s a mass of trees and bramble—but theoretically I could.
I am sort of imagining that the county will cut a swath through that land—that’s in the dream-on category.

snowberry's avatar

Well if it’s a public access path as you say, you should be able to get in there on a bicycle, horseback, or if nothing else, walking. I’m just thinking it’s time to ask a few friends to stroll through there on one errand or another. Do you have adventurous, brave friends? I’d do it! LOL

skfinkel's avatar

Just spoke with the county. Here’s what I learned. It is country property, but they have no interest in it, and my neighbor can’t ever claim it, even if he puts his “property” markers all over it. So, neither of us can really do anything with it, and it is neither of ours. The county doesn’t have the money or interest to make it a real path.
Best, I think, is to just ignore the lines and him.
Thanks for all the advice and help.
Bullies abound, and in this case, I think nothing will come of his strong-arming.

jca's avatar

@skfinkel: Yeah let the neighbor think whatever he wants. As long as he doesn’t come and threaten you, who cares what he thinks.

Thanks for the update!

snowberry's avatar

If however, he starts building on that land, you might want to let the county know…

CWOTUS's avatar

The potential problem that I see is that the “deeded county path” may not be a division between the properties, even though it might seem to be.

We had this very situation come up – albeit without any hard feelings at all – with neighbors of ours across the street from where I grew up. The case then was that there had been an opening in a stone wall there for access to a pond across the street from us and about a quarter-mile into the woods there. This pre-dated any development of homes in this area. When the land was plotted for home development, the gate was left in the stone wall and the path continued to be a public access way to the pond, even though it was all included within the bounds of one of the homeowners. He never had a problem with people using the gate and the path, and since his lot was large enough, he simply mowed the grass there but did no other improvements.

Later on, when the ownership of both of those homes changed, the new owner of the non-burdened land simply assumed that he owned “up to the path”, and started to make his own improvements. The other neighbor, who now owned the burdened lot, started to assume that he didn’t own what he thought he did, but they worked that out between themselves eventually, and peacefully.

If I were you I would definitely want a survey of my land and the “county path” to be sure that I owned what I thought I did. You may be operating on a faulty assumption – in fact, both of you may be.

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