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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29821
Experience:  JA Mentor
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I live in Granger IN at 50671 Glenshire Ct. I established

Customer Question

I live in Granger IN at***** I established the neighboring property line by finding the surveyor iron stakes with a metal detector and my Certified Indiana Survey. I ran a line between the stakes to determine the property line for purposes of landscaping. I left a note in my neighbors mail chute informing of my intent. My neighbors contested the property line so that I had to put landscaping on hold. They had a surveyor establish the property line via satellite and claimed that their survey superseded the surveyor iron stakes. The existing sprinkler heads were installed before surveys were done/plots established. They moved their two sprinkler heads on my property and removed the two sprinkler heads on their property that watered the south side of our property. They called a friend who is a St. Joseph County police officer 4 times: (1) claiming the existing landscaping was "trespassing" on their property (arborvitae and burning bush grew a bit over property line (2) claiming criminal mischief -- that I mowed over their newly installed sprinkler head, which is a foot beyond their property line chord. No evidence and no possibility that my Toro push mower could have gone this far beyond the chord, (3) called Adult Protective Services claiming that I am mentally unfit to live in my house.
I am a piano teacher with 45 students. I am faced with dealing with 3 fraudulent charges and a cop that my neighbor has on speed dial. Back in January our HOA had a new president (after 9 years with the same board members) who is a friend of my neighbor. My neighbor reported to the HOA that my piano teaching was an illegal business. Their is nothing in the Covenants or Bylaws to prevent teaching/turoring or any business except fortune telling, a beauty palor or selling commodities.
I want to end this ongoing harrassment and the only option appears to be a legal one. Did they have a right to remove my sprinkling system on the south side of my house? How do I address the fraudulent charges/what kind of attorney do I need? Thanks -- ***** *****eville
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Hi Linda,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that you're having so much trouble with your neighbor.

Your neighbor had no right to remove your sprinkler system if the sprinkers were, in fact, on your side of the property line. You have the ability to sue for property damage (for the cost of replacing them), plus trespass, which would impose punitive damages on your neighbor for entering your property without consent. The judge can also order them to pay for removing the sprinkler heads and restoring your property to the way it was before (filling in the holes - get an estimate for a gardener). Any litigation attorney can help with all that.

If the HOA didn't take any negative action against you for teaching piano lessons out of your home, then there's no cause of action against the neighbor for saying you did it. This is both because teaching the piano is something that you do and because telling people that you do it isn't likely to harm your reputation. But you may be able to file defamation against her for telling people you're unfit to live in your house, if the allegation goes beyond APS (because those statements are protected), or if you can prove she knew the allegations weren't true when she made them. Trying to get you committed because she doesn't like where the property line is could also be considered intentional infliction of emotional distress - it would depend on whether she made one call or there was an ongoing pattern of activity. A litigation attorney who does intentional torts could also help you determine if there's an additional cause of action here. You might also be able to sue for nuisance, because your neighbor is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property.

A member of an HOA board has an obligation to do what's in the best interests of the entire community. If the president is bending the rules and assisting a property owner in harassing you, look at the bylaws and rules and regulations to see if there is a procedure for removing that person for violating their fiduciary duty to the community. Another option is to document everything that happens, and how this person is involved, and bring it all out into the open at the next election.

This isn't exactly a legal solution, but once you get things worked out in a court and a judge decides where the property line is, it may help to put up a fence, both so you can ignore each other for the most part and so your neighbor can't come onto your property and mess with your landscaping/sprinklers again.

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