Unreasonable neighbor - what would you do?

My husband and I have been living in our house for about three years. About 10 months ago, a woman moved in next door. We live in a gated community with tons of pine trees. We have a property owners association (POA).

In December, the woman next door told us she was having some trees cut down that her insurance company told her were hazardous. She asked if we wanted to get an estimate for having a tree that’s on our property, but on the property line next to her house, cut down. We said sure. When we got the estimate, we told her we’d decided not to cut it down.

A few weeks later, we received a letter from the POA saying our neighbor complained about a hazardous tree on our property. They did not ask us to do anything about it. We wrote back saying it was healthy, not a hazard, and we would not be cutting it down.

About two weeks ago, we received another letter from the POA saying that our neighbor was complaining that pine cones were dropping from the tree and damaging her property. They asked us to trim the branches that breached the property line. They gave us 7 days to do it and said we’d be fined $50/day for every day we delayed after that 7 days. We wrote back and asked for a meeting with the POA manager and president.

They met with my husband on Friday. The resolution was that they would have the POA landscapers come out and trim three branches. They were very sympathetic and, after looking at the situation, basically said that the neighbor was being pretty silly, but in order to keep the peace, this is what we should do. We said fine, no problem.

They notified the neighbor of the resolution to the problem. She then called us and, very profanely, demanded our homeowners insurance information. She said a pine cone had fallen on her daughter’s car and dented the hood :rolleyes: . She said she’d sue us if we didn’t stop “being difficult.” She also said that she’d lived there for almost a year and was sick of “all our crap.” Keep in mind that this is the second time I’ve ever spoken to her and the first was to tell her we’d get back to her about the estimate. My husband has been over there helping her with landscaping, putting together tools, and letting her borrow our tools. It’s just the two of us in our house and we’re not at all loud or anything like that.

I didn’t give her any information. I called our insurance person who said it was all bullshit (he actually said that) and to not call her back. He said that’s what her car insurance is for and that there’s no way our insurance would pay for something like that. I also spoke with my brother, who’s an attorney in another state. He said not to bother calling a local attorney, to not file an insurance claim, and to discontinue all contact with the woman. He said to go ahead and do what the POA asked us to do (we’ll actually just cut the whole tree down).

Meanwhile, after consulting the POA president and our builder, it turns out the brick fence she has is actually about three inches over our property line. They think, since she’s really been nasty about this whole thing, that we should push the issue and have her move it over three inches (a real pain in the ass for her).

How would you all handle this situation?? It’s really stressing me out! I’m a grudge holder and would love to really mess with her, but it’s probably better just to cut the tree down and leave it alone. My husband is leaning in that direction, but believes that it will never be over because she’s basically a bitchy, nasty woman.

Cut down the tree, if that’s what you want to do, and leave the rest be. If she calms down after that then cool, karma will get her back down the road. If she is still a major bitch then push for moving the wall.

It seems to me also that if you cut it down, she will never leave you alone. If you do, you are showing her that you will do what she wants because you don’t want a confrontation, which may be true but it will give her license to walk all over you.

I say, casually mention the brick fence thing. If she wants to play by the letter of the law, so be it. There’s probably a way of saying ‘I’ll chop down my tree if you move your fence, or else we can let the whole thing slide’ without it sounding too ugly and … well … confrontational.

I guess you people are too mature to spell out BITCH in weed killer on her front lawn, huh? Oh well.

If it were me, I’d tell her that you’ll chop the tree as soon as she moved the wall. No ifs, ands, or buts. People like that are gonna be pissy regardless of what you do, so tit for tat. I don’t understand why some people have to be that way, but like someone above said, if you give in to them with nothing in return, you’re just asking for more trouble down the road.

Don’t cut down the tree - cowgirl is right, don’t let her push you around. Once she succeeds in bullying you, she’ll just be encourated to find more ways to do it.

I would ignore her. Get caller ID and don’t answer the phone if she calls. Don’t answer the door if she knocks. If she tries to talk to you while you are outside tell her that you have been advised not to speak to her but but if she puts her complaints down in writing you will pass it on to your lawyer.

Call the police and write to the HOA if she threatens you.

I’ll be dammed. You too?

We’re in the middle of almost the exact same situation. My dumbshit neighbor complained because pine needles from our 100 year old tree were falling onto his driveway.

What kind of an idiot moves to a pine forest and complains about needles and cones? The trees add aesthetic value to both homes, not to mention lower utility bills because of the shade.

In our association, newer planted foilage must be maintained by the homeowner but the larger stuff, ie mature pine tree limbs and debris, is the responsibility of whoever lives below it.

I can tell you this, if someone wanted to cut down limbs from a tree on my property or heaven forbid cut down the tree altogether, I’d be effing pissed.

Sorry, I come into the discussion with a pre-existing bad taste in my mouth but I’d ask this twit what the hell she thought was going to be dropping from the tree. What an idiot.

My neighbor also felt the needles were justification to scare my child with his car. That’s why he went to the hospital and we’ll see each other in court next month. I truly hope yours turns out better.

It’s not that hard to be a good neighbor. Jeez some people, although thankfully rare, just disappoint the hell out of me. Grrrr.

Insist on her moving the brink fence. Even though she will think of it as some sort of bitchy retaliation thing, she is encroaching on your property. If you let her do this, over time (since you know about this fact now), she will end up owning the 3" of your land. I know, it’s 3" but don’t let her (contractor’s) carelessness alter your property lines.

We’re actually not too mature for that, but we are a little worried about being sent to jail :slight_smile: .
She also has a cat that digs in our garden that we’d love to turn into the pound, except we wouldn’t want the cat punished for her behavior.

Any other legal revenge ideas would be very welcome, though!

If the tree is on your property and she damages or kills it, my guess would be you could sue her for replacement costs which, depending on the size of the tree, could easily come to thousands of dollars. Ooooo, this makes me mad.

Yeah, lieu. It’s hard to believe that people can act like this. We’re a little worried about forcing the issue or escalating it because, like what’s happened with your neighbor, we think she’s obviously a little unbalanced and will go over the edge if we push it. A woman who calls up screaming and cussing about something like this, especially when we’ve never had words or even a real conversation with her, is really not someone whose behavior you can predict. I don’t want her doing something like poisoning our dog or something.

My husband and I drive around now pointing out cars in our neighborhood that are obviously going to get completely destroyed from the pinecones that are plummeting down on them.
One neighbor has a Jag parked in the middle of a little pine grove. The fool!

Not only that, but our homeowner’s assoc. says that if a tree is cut down or destroyed, replacements have to be planted on the property. The total diameter of the trunks of the replacement trees have to equal the diameter of the tree that was removed. The POA has given us an exception to this rule if we cut this tree down, but they’re annoyed at the woman (especially because she’s been rude about hounding them) so they may enforce it if she were the one to destroy the tree.

Please don’t cut down the tree. I’d hate to see a wonderful tree cut down over this idiocy.

Now about the fence: You have to get that issue resolved. I am not a real-estate lawyer or anything, but I think it’s very important that the violation either be corrected or noted on the deed (or however it’s done.) The land that she has stolen from you is valuable. Could you sell her the strip of land instead of moving the fence?

We have a weird fence situation on our property. Apparently, some awful former occupants of this house had an awful dog that they let run free. So our behind-neighbors wanted to put up a fence, but the awful neighbors gave them a hard time about doing it, or something. So they put the fence about 6-feet in on their side. There is a hedge there, so they fenced inside of their own hedge. So, my yard is effectively 6 feet deeper and I have a nice hedge on my side. (The 6 feet really makes a different as my back lawn is only about 22x22!) When we looked at the house, we assumed of course that the fence was on the property line and the hedge was part of our property. We found out about the weird fence situation somewhere before we closed on the house. We were disappointed, but decided that it was no biggie. We take care of the hedge and enjoy our borrowed strip of land. But I hope that there is no issue in the future–like if our behind neighbors sell their house and the new people decided they want their land back.

Anyway, I’m telling you all this not because our weird situation has caused any problems–quite the contrary–but because I know that there is a potential entanglement there. I think you have to resolve it somehow.

I’d find out about the fence on your land. InTransit got it right at least in MD if someone starts coming onto your land and you do nothing about it, as in a fence or even mows it all the time, they can claim it as theirs. You might also want to trim back the tree a bit even though, again in MD, it would be her responsability to trim it since it over hangs her yard.

If it were me… I’d trim the tree as you described, but not cut it down. I’d avoid the neighbor if at all possible. If she persists in asking you to cut the tree down, tell her only if she moves the brick wall. If she keeps insulting you (e.g. telling you that you’re causing her “crap”, etc.) I’d look into a restraining order or at least some kind of complaint to your POV re: her harrassing you.

(i) Give the cat enough catnip so that Cheech and Chong look sober in comparison, or
(ii) If you’re against drugging felines, photograph it digging up your property and complain to the POA, then
(iii) Protect your property border rights. At the very least, fully document that the 3" of porperty belong to you.
(iiii) Don’t even acknowledge that neighbors have the ability to breathe. But don’t allow them to get away with anything. Document all contact. It’s a PITA, but a year later you’ll be glad you have those notes with dates and times.
(v) Make sure you have all your tools back, and neither lend nor help her with any future projects. Give her nothing - I don’t care if it’s 20 below with 10 feet of snow on the ground, don’t even let her borrow a cup of sugar. Let her reap what she has sown.

I hold grudges too :slight_smile: Could you tell?

We were thinking about collecting about a million pine cones and doing a Birds on her…put one on her porch one night, then the next night put three. The next night, put about thirty on her driveway, then line her gutters with them, etc. Probably not legal, though :slight_smile: .

After talking with my husband, I think we’re going to give her a friendly call (this will be my husban’d job - he’s excellent at veerrrry calmly dealing with irate people). We’re going to let her know when the tree trimmers will be there and ask her to please move her car while they’re there. We’re going to explain what the insurance agent said (in a nicer way than he actually did). Then we’re going to ignore her. If she so much as makes a peep at us, we’ll make an issue of the fence, and possibly go the restraining order route, depending on the level of vitriol she uses.

I understand what you all are saying about property rights, but since we’ll be selling the house (hopefully within the next few months), I think we’re going to lay low on it for now. Her fence comprises one side of our fenced in yard. If we ask her to move the fence, she really has no obligation to replace it, so we’d basically be sharing a yard with her unless we went to the expense of putting a fence up on that side. At this point, I don’t want to spend the money and I can’t see someone buying a house with a partially fenced in yard.

I have to jump on this bandwagon. Especially about the fence–you’ll be losing part of the property that you paid for if you don’t have her move it. Don’t cut down the tree. Ask her once nicely to return any tools she still has and control her cat. After that, write up complaints to the POA or the appropriate authority (police and/or animal control if necessary).

If you are truly planning on moving in 6 months, I’d trim the tree and then be done with her. 3 inches of land is not worth the grand headache you’ll end up with if you try to make this into an issue. Yes, yes, it’s tempting to take revenge on her but don’t stoop to her level of pettiness.

Once you’ve sold the property, you can tell the new homeowners about the rock wall and let them have it as a bargaining chip
should they find her as difficult as you found her.

Good luck. And keep those 15 pound pinecones out of her yard, would ya?

My father is a surveyor and years ago he told me of a case he had been involved in where an office block encroached onto the neighboring property by a few inches. The owners had no choice but to buy the tiny strip of land at an extortionate price from the owners of the vacant block. Perhaps you could retrospectively charge her rent for the portion of your property she has used. A suitable sum would be whatever it will cost you for all her crap.