What are my options if my neighbor plants a garden or erects a fence on my property? Well, I get this question asked any number of times primarily as it relates to fences. The first thing that you would need to be very sure of is obtaining a survey, so you know precisely where your boundary line is, so there’s no question about that. Particularly as it relates to fences that shows that the fence or whatever, or garden for that matter, is in fact on your property. Once you know that it’s on your property, then I suggest that you contact your neighbor by written notice, or a nice letter, and say, “Enclosed is a copy of a survey, which shows that you have your fence on my property or your garden, and I would give you permission to relocate your fence onto your property, and to remove your garden from my property. I’d appreciate hearing from you in the next ten days.”
Sometimes I am engaged to send that letter out, particularly if there is a little bad blood between you and the neighbor, but it’s something that certainly you can do. You first try and do it by getting the neighbor to understand what the boundary line is. Now if the neighbor does not remove the fence or relocate the fence or remove the garden, then I would send the next letter is is saying that, “I haven’t heard from you about relocating the fence or relocating your garden. If it is not relocated in the next ten days, or whatever period of time you wish to give them, I am going to remove your fence from my property and lay it onto your property, and also remove your garden from my property.” You send them that letter. If that doesn’t … They don’t do anything, you can then proceed to remove any encroachments from your property.
Fences are particularly a hot point, as long as there’s no breach the peace. If someone comes out there and the neighbor starts shooting at you or comes out and confronts you or wants to fight or whatever, then probably the best thing to do is to call the police. Show the police your survey, and say, “I’ve asked this … My neighbor to relocate his fence a couple of times. He’s refused. I told him I want to relocate it. I’m not going on his property, and he’s out here giving me a bad time.” The officer will usually say, “Send everybody home.” Say, “Well, it’s a civil matter.” If it escalates to the point where you’re unable to remove the encroachment from your property, and you have to hire a Lawyer to do that, of course, it starts getting very expensive at that point. Then we could file what they call an Ejectment Action. That’s wherein you state that this is your boundary line. You own the property, and that you’re asking the neighbor, asking the Court to direct the neighbor to remove these encroachments from your property.
The answer to your question is you have a self-help remedy for these encroachments, and as long as there’s no breach the peace. Then if that doesn’t work and you do need to hire a Lawyer, well then he can file what they call an Ejectment Action. Unfortunately, those get a little bit expensive. If you have any problems, hopefully you can get it worked out with your neighbor, but the first thing to do is get you a survey. Yes, that does cost you some money that shows where these encroachments are on your property, and then see if you can’t get it worked out with your neighbor, as far as removing those encroachments without having a confrontation or having to spend a lot of money with an Attorney.
If you have any problems or questions about that, give me a call at 727-847-2288.