How do you approach a neighbor..

4 Replies

I purcahesd a duplex last fall and we noticed the neighbor has a large amount of dirt leaning up against the back of our garage which is starting to rot the wood of the garage. 

I talked to him previously about its effects and he wanted me to move the dirt or pay for it. I dont feel I should have to pay for this and I want him to remediate the situation.

What's the best way going about this to have him get this done?

@Justin B. is the back of your garage directly on the property line? I have not seen that with all of the set-backs that seem to be required everywhere (maybe it's a local thing here). How much dirt are you talking about? Is this tons or a few wheelbarrows? I don't have enough information to say what I would do. If the garage is the property line I would consider moving the pile 10 feet further into his property. There may also be a way to claim the damage against him/his insurance. When a neighbor's tree branch gets large and falls on your home it is their problem. I would assume similar when they place other objects that cause destruction. Worth looking into.

The big question for me is, how much dirt? If it's nothing, just go protect your investment and move it.

@Justin B. that sucks. Is there a city code or something similar that says that the neighbor is responsible for not damaging your part of the property line? Call your insurance and ask about the situation and see if it is something you can claim against his insurance. Otherwise, grab a pick and shovel and start tossing clumps in various parts of his yard! If you spread it out fairly well it will make it impossible for him to clean it up. Or if you are nicer, put it in a couple of piles in his area. You can always get some cheap labor that will have it done in a couple of hours. I think at the end of the day if he has not been receptive than it's up to you to keep your investment sound no matter who is right. In this case, it's probably less than $100 if you hire it out, which is not really enough to worry about beyond the "rightness" factor.

I don't think some of the above advice is sound and could get you into legal trouble. If you go into the neighbors property and spread his dirt in his yard without his permission, you will be legally liable for his claimed damages. 

It's best to catch bees with honey rather than vinegar so try to keep this neighbor and your relationship on a good level and not a confrontational one.

Politely tell him that you looked into the situation and that he or his insurance could be liable for any damages to the structure of your garage. To avoid such a problem, would he please remove it. If he says no, then ask him f he would grant permission in writing for you to bring some laborers onto his property to remove it. That cost of the removal is less than the cost and headaches of a legal battle, believe me.