tree At prop lineHmm, I think it’s his…

Issues that pertain to property and property-improvements are big hot-buttons between neighbors for obvious reasons: the related costs and inconvenience to resolve can be significant…and the emotional toll can be very stressful.  The most common issues pertain to fences, trees, easements, and drainage.

“By the way” my client casually mentioned to his neighbor this fall, “Did you know your fence was on my property by about two feet?” …..The neighbor said it couldn’t be, because the fence installer got a permit and the building department signed off on the permit….But an “as-built” survey was never required by the building department for the fence which would have shown the discrepancy.  However, the survey we needed to perform for my client’s home addition revealed this encroachment and our client, wisely, wanted to resolve this issue quickly.

This is a very common example of typical issues and should be remedied before any hard-feelings or worse transpire.  What usually unfolds is that the construction or design that precedes the construction reveals an anomaly or creates an issue that needs to be  addressed.

In the previous example the fence owner signed an agreement drafted by a real-estate attorney that held my client harmless and stated the neighbor would not try to take possesion of this 2′ strip of property and that my client was accepting that the maintenance of the fence was fine but could not fall into disrepair.

  1. Fence Basics

Also you should know that almost all municipalities require that the “good” side face away from the owner’s house, and yesssss the municpality can make you turn the fence around if they chose to enforce compliance.

Most municipalities have height restrictions for most fences, typically lower at the front, and higher at the middle-side-rear of the property. Also owners should be mindful that some neighborhoods and developments have restrictions or covenenants that prescribe materials that may or may not be used.


2. Tree Basics

Your property “line” is actually a vertical plane that extends to the sky. In other words, many trees that originate in one property and overhang a different property are in fact “owned” by both or even multiple neighbors. So if the tree needs pruning or cabling above your part of the property, you generally are required to do this-though the trunk may be next door. You guessed it- most municipalities have tree-care codes and regulations.

Of course the wise thing to do is create a conversation about sharing some responsiblity and related costs in a proactive manner.  But  the responsibility of tree-care predictably goes “grey” when a storm hits and blows over a poorly maintained tree.

3. Drainage

Your project cannot make your neighbors’ drainage worse.  But here is what often happens-  Since it costs money to excavate and remove unwanted soil, the cheapest most expedient thing to do-is scatter the extra soil around the site often raising the grade above the former elevation often creating a worse condition for the neighbors drainage since the surface water may be re-directed to areas it never flow to before-like your basement . Additional boo-boos include cutting or harming of tree roots of the neighbor’s trees since “they were in the way”.  While most municipalities  have regulations about where you locate drywells and drainage structures sometimes liberties are taken and viola your backyard floods-when it never did before.P3300002

4. Easements

If your property is shaped like a flag, you may be the beneficiary of an easement. Your driveway may be on somebody elses land and there are certain privileges that you enjoy but not fully control. Likewise there can be an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like, or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties to access all or portions of your property…..What’s your situation?  We have the solution…Wanna believe? Call Steve 914 980 5532


Article by Steven Secon