Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
‘My husband had our home built around 27 years ago when there were only a handful of homes in the area of Cordova, Tennessee. Upon completion of our home, my husband had a wood privacy fence installed 6 inches inside our property line. At some point homes were built around us, and we still have the same neighbor on the right side, but the house on the left has been bought and sold numerous times through the years. There were never problems with any neighbors until the family who now owns the property moved in.
I walked out onto my front porch to see the new neighbors’ son beating my mailbox with his baseball bat. His father apologized, but did not offer to replace my mailbox which is still dented in. Next, I came home one afternoon to discover that my neighbor’s wife had extended her flower bed three feet over onto my front lawn. They then planted bushes and shrubs and vines on my back fence and neglected to trim them back so they burst through our fence causing damage. Their dogs chewed the bottom of the fence panels and dug into our yard on several occasions digging holes all over our back yard. When my wife tried to make the dogs go home, the terrier snarled and tried to attack her. My wife phoned the neighbor and left a message. Later that evening the woman next door told my wife the terrier would bite so if they dug through again just leave them in our yard and she would retrieve the dogs when she got home. This dog has dug into our back yard numerous times and our neighbors have never fixed our lawn. The dogs have since died and they now have new dogs which dig holes and eat the fence and bark constantly.
Then a couple years ago, we come home to find the neighbor had again extended her flower bed for a total of five feet into my front lawn. At this time I told my wife to talk to her and ask that they remove their flower bed. We phoned several times but they did not return our calls so my wife left a message stating we would like for them to remove their flower bed and that my wife would even help with the removal if they let her know the day. We heard nothing back from them and after 4 months, we decided to extend our privacy fence around 12 feet in order to stop the intrusion on our lawn. My wife heard the neighbor mowing his front lawn and she spoke with him, letting him know we were extending our fence and the flower bed needed to be removed. He stated his wife would remove it that morning. This neighbor came over screaming that afternoon at the men extending our fence and then screaming at my wife that we could not put up a fence as we had not told her we were installing one, and that her flower bed (on our property) that we had damaged would have to be paid for. I sat down and typed up a letter to them stating everything that had been done by their shrubs, their dogs, the wife, etc and mailed it to them. I also informed them that my fence was 6 inches inside my property line. I asked that they please remove all the rotten wood panels and junk they had attached to my fence and which was an eyesore when sitting at my breakfast table and looking out my windows in the mornings. I did not hear from them and 3 weeks later sent a certified letter. The husband then came over and talked with me. He fixed the fence in several places, trimmed the shrubs back, and got rid of most of the vines they had on my fence.
Since then his son, who is around 12 years old, and his son’s friends have started throwing soda cans and trash over the fence into our yard where the new fence addition is located. They are also climbing on the fence. The neighbor’s wife has put a long bench against the fence in that area which the children climb up on and look over at us and make comments whenever we go out into our back yard.
A few weeks later, the neighbor’s wife installed a long flexible gutter spout from the end of their down spout at the front of their home over into my front lawn so the water coming off one whole side of their house is flooding my side lawn and front lawn. This is causing my lawn to turn to mushy mud during the rain and snow seasons of October, November, December, March, April, and May.
Now, last year, they installed an in-ground pool in their back yard. Our fence was again damaged and broken in the process, but the worst problem is that instead of having the dirt that was removed from the hole hauled off, they used it to raise the ground level of their back yard. They also angled the ground so that their back yard now slopes to a “V” in the middle which is even with my back door. This causes all the water from their yard and from their gutters at the back of their home to flow into my back yard when it rains. My back lawn is turning into mush and the water just stands all over my back yard. Sometimes it rains for several days at the time and the water comes up into my back door wetting my carpet in my living room. The stains have been very tough to remove and it is causing my carpet to come apart at the seam.
I called the City of Memphis and someone came out and inspected the storm drain on their property. The city told us that the neighbor had planted shrubs and bushes around the storm drain but the drain was not blocked from water being able to get to it. We have taken photo’s and video’s of all the damage that they have subjected our property and lawn to. We have photos and videos of the water flooding through the fence in a manner that looks as though they have fire hydrants turned on over there flooding our yard. We also have photos of the down spout and the damages it is causing to our lawn as it is raining. I would like to know what my options are in Cordova, Tennessee for stopping my neighbor from ruining my property both inside and outside my home?’Move.
Question: I’m not entirely kidding. I can type up a few pages worth of information on trespass and nuisance laws, but you can get the same sort of information in a cheap initial consultation with an attorney. The lawsuit will be expensive. You’ll probably win, from the sound of it, but even if you do, you’ll be out at least thousands, possibly tens of thousands of dollars, and you’ll still have the same neighbors-who will be even madder than they are now.If this were the first problem you’ve had with these neighbors, that would be one thing. But you’ve clearly tried to work with them and there keeps being one problem after the next. So after this problem is
resolved, you think there won’t be another one?
You’ll have to disclose to your buyer about the problems with the neighbor, and that will probably mean taking a hit in the selling price. But how much is your peace of mind worth?
If you absolutely can’t or won’t move, then you need to talk to an attorney. Find out the gory details of your legal rights, then try first to resolve things with your neighbors without actually having to