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Maverick, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5749
Experience:  20 years professional experience
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I have a swimming pool that was installed years before I

Customer Question

I have a swimming pool that was installed years before I purchased my home. During hurricane Katrina my neighbors house flooded. Most every house in our neighborhood flooded as well as my own. After Katrina my neighbor began harassing us verbally saying that we had our pool built without permits and without the approval of our Homeowners association. She contacted our homeowners insurance (State farm) and filed a lawsuit against us stating that our pool leaks into their yard and floods their house. Including that our pool makes their yard "unuseable". State Farm conducted their investigation and concluded that this was a bogus claim and that our swimming pool is not at fault. My neighbor then went to the HOA and demanded information proving that we had all the permits etc. HOA informs them that our pool was grandfathered in when we purchased our home. A few years before this dispute my neighbor and I paid half for a fence to be installed. My neighbor removed the fence and constructed a 2 foot concrete retaining wall along our back yard where the previous fence once was and continued past both houses halfway into the front yard. This is clearly against HOA regulations. She cut the previous fence in half and put 4 ft wooden pickets on top of the concrete wall and built another 4 ft half attached to that fence back to back along the wall. She claims that the fence belongs to her now and I am not allowed to use my side of the fence. She is encroaching on my property and removed my paid portion of the previous fence that she says I no longer own. Now she has installed 4 cameras facing my swimming pool / back yard, one facing directly into my master bedroom window and one directly looking into my garage. While we swim, mow the yard and cookout. She watch's us and comes out and peeks over the fence with cameras snapping pictures and laughing. I was never informed of this construction by her or by the HOA. I never approved of this concrete/wood fence to be installed partially on my land. I have asked the HOA to send me information as to why this was approved by the committee with documentation from Certified City Engineers explaining why they would approve of a deliberate attempt to divert water from its natural flow. This wall now restricts the natural flow of drainage on both properties. I have standing water on the side of my house and I have water coming into my home during hard storms. I have had to hire a $4000.00 contractor to come out and install a french drain on the back and sides of my house. The neighbors have standing water in their back yard every time it rains and she calls the HOA to tell them that my pool is still flowing into their back yard. This is completlely absurd and has become a form of harassment. I told the HOA that they have cameras facing directly into my backyard and along the side of my house facing my master bedroom and one facing into my garage. They informed me that the cameras were a civil matter. A police officer told me to build a taller fence. HOA regulations clearly state that a 6 ft wooden fence is to be erected to meet regulations. Not a 2 ft concrete retaining wall and 4 ft wooden pickets. This concrete wall is encroaching on to my property. I am not allowed to touch or mount/bolt onto her fence to erect my own fence. Therefore, I would lose even more of my property if I was build my own fence. If the concrete wall is on my property I would like to charge them rent for the use of my property and the lost property I would have to subtract with building my own 6 ft wooden HOA approved fence. I asked if they could give me proof of a survey or for them to pay for one to prove the property line. They refused to do so. They hammered 3 metal rebarb bars 4 inches onto my property and left them. I mowed over them while mowing the side of my property and they laughed while my mower blade broke off. I managed to pull up 2 bars with shovels and wrenches that were 12 inches deep with a small amount of concrete attached to the bottom of the bar. I realized that I shouldn't have removed them and left the 3rd in place. I had to replace the lawn mower that I had just purchased 3 months prior. I would like proof that there was probable cause with factual evidence of fault from a Certified City Engineer. I would like this wall removed and HOA to be responsible for going against set restrictions without a Certified City Engineer complete investigation and advice on a building plan. If my property or pool was or is at fault shouldn't the City or the HOA inform me that I am at fault? The lawsuit would not be at a hault and I would assume I would financially responsible for something. This wall not only is against HOA regulations in my back yard, it extends half into the front of our property. Doesn't that again go against the rules? Who is going to repay me for half of the fence I paid for? Shouldn't someone give me a building plan before and after the completion of this construction? Shouldn't
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 3 months ago.

Welcome to Just Answer (“JA”)! My name is Maverick.

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Expert:  Maverick replied 3 months ago.

I am sorry that there is so much going on here that appears to have caused you a lot of grief. In order to untangle all the issues presented here, you really should consult with a local real estate litigation attorney. Most of them will charge about $250 to $300 per hour and if you want to address each issue, you may be looking at investing tens of thousand of dollars before you see even a hint of any tangible results. A lot depends on how much money and time your neighbor and the HOA have to defend against you case.

The most practical advice that I have for you and which you can do either yourself or with the help of an attorney [and within a reasonable budget] is to file what is known as a declaratory judgment action and ask for an injunction. This can been do against both the HOA and the neighbor. Here is the law that applies if you are in Louisiana.

Basically you will need to hire a surveyor to come out and determine if her wall is on your property. If the surveyor confirms this, then you would sue both the HOA and her for a court order that says 1. that her wall is on your property, 2. that she is ordered at her own expense to demolish the wall and 3. the HOA regulations only permit a 6 foot wooden fence and anything other that that is a violation of this court's order which is enforceable by contempt of court. In this same action you can sue her for the value of 1/2 the fence that she destroyed on a destruction of property claim and also ask the court to issue a ruling on who is to pay [in what proportions] for the new 6 foot fence.

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