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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  California lawyer since 1976.
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We live in a townhome association with all the grounds called

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We live in a townhome association with all the grounds called common ground as it is all mowed and maintained by the association. We have one of the neighbors who walkes around the backs of all the homes looking at our homes. He claims that since it is "Commom ground" he can do this all he wants. Is this legal?
Hello spaniel 47 and welcome to JustAnswer.

Can you clarify the situation please? I take it that this is an open, common area, with no fencing and that it is contiguous to all of the homes (or at least those which back up to this particular common area). Furthermore, it is essentially open for anyone to walk anywhere within the common area.

If that's the case, is there nevertheless any differentiation in the community plot map or the association documents by which any portion of this common area is designated as being for the use of the adjoining townhome unit? Such as, do you have patios or private gardens in the rear of the units?

And how close to the backs of your homes does this neighbor come when he is walking around? Is he close enough to look in your windows? Or is he far enough away that he is simply looking at the backs walls of the units?

Finally, do your association documents in any way address -- and in particular, limit -- access by anyone to this area?

If you can provide this additional information, I can give you a better answer to your question.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

the yards are continous one next to the other, on both sides of the street, no fences but we do have a street and a sidewalk. This person lives accross the street, and has no real business walking behind any of the houses and yes he is close enough to look in windows. He is within a couple of feet of the windows. We all have either a patio of deck in the back.

The bi-laws do not really address this issue, however the state of Minnesota says we own "lot 29, block 1,WildRidge NorthPointe, Common Interest Community No.29". According to the platt map, this includes our front and back yards.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
will I still get an answer to my question or what do I have to do next
My apologies, Spaniel, I was away for awhile.

Under the circumstances you have described and in the absence of any specific restriction in the community by-laws, there would appear to be no reason that this person cannot walk anywhere in the common area grounds of the community.

However, there are two considerations that may be of some assistance to you. Regardless of the common area status, the patios or decks would be considered private and he would be trespassing if he went onto either of those. Trespass is both a civil wrong and a misdemeanor crime under Minnesota Criminal Code section 609.605. You can see this code section at:

Furthermore, if he is actually looking in the windows, that would be considered interference with privacy ("peeping Tom"), which is also a crime under Minnesota Criminal Code section 609.746. You can see this code section at:

Therefore, if he does either of these things, you can file a complaint with the local police department.

You might also consider asking the association board to modify the by-laws to clarify the privacy rights of the community's residents with respect to the property immediately appurtenant to each unit, including the decks and patios.

Thanks for asking your question here on JustAnswer. If you have any other questions, please let me know.
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