Legal Question in Real Estate Law in District of Columbia

When I purchased my home the surveyor said the brick wall seperating my property from my neighbors was soley mine. My neighbor constantly powerwashes it, has put about 30 nails in it to hold up shrubs on his side, causing a crack that I paid several hundred dollars to repair. Can I enter his property to remove the nails and patch them. He thinks it is wall, however, since my garage is farther east of the wall the surveyor explained if the wall was his the garage would be encroaching his property and it is not. I have walls on both sides of my property, my neighbor only has the one with me. He is unreasonable. Since my property sits about 4 ft higher then his I have all that dirt on my side. I really want to remove the nails. What can I do? He also comes around the wall and mows about 15 feet of my lawn. I don't want a confrontation, but what can I do? This week I caught him on a ladder leaning over the wall to trim my wisteria. I took down an old hemlock last year and his wife called the city, beacuse "I removed her shade". I don't want a legal battle, but if push comes to shove.......

Asked on 5/26/11, 5:12 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Phillip M. Cook Cook Legal Services, LLC

If I were in your shoes, I would take the following action:

1. Have a survey prepared by your surveyor. If you have already done so, double check to make sure what the surveyor is telling you actually matches up to what the survey depicts in terms of your property line.

2. If this were the first conversation you had with these folks, I would suggest doing it in person with the idea that it's less formal than preparing something in writing, they are your neighbors and you want to get off to a good start. In other words, I would tell you to play nice with them until they gave you a reason to not play nice.

The problem is that it already sounds like there is contention there. With that said, I would prepare (or even better, have your attorney prepare on law firm letterhead!!) a "cease and desist" letter, which basically instructs the neighbor to stop these actions. The letter would also state that you paid several hundred dollars to repair a crack in YOUR wall as a result of the nails. The letter would state that any additional repair as a result of the nails in your wall be his responsibility. The would also state that you intend to remove the nails in the wall, regardless of the consequences (his bushes falling down?). Finally, I would state that if I find him on my property again, or if he interferes with my use and enjoyment of the wall, or my removal of the nails, I will call the police for the trespass and pursue any civil rights I have.

3. Include a copy of the survey with your letter. Send the letter via overnight mail, certified mail, or some other method wherein you can track it and prove that it was received by the neighbor.

If your neighbor continues with these actions, I would hire an attorney immediately if you have not done so already. It may be necessary to go into court and ask a judge to issue an "injunction" against the neighbor. An "injunction" is a legal term that describes an order from a judge to stop doing something, in this case messing with your wall.

Best of luck.*****The above is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client privilege.*****

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Answered on 5/29/11, 7:04 pm

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