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I already had problems with a neighbor /zero lot property line. Now she has planted a ficus tree 2" from our garage and driveway

Mission Viejo, CA |

2 years ago, our neighbor built a wall and stuck it to our home without ours or the homeowner assoc. permission. Then she covered her gate so we couldn't see the back yard, and built a wall 3 foot from our home along the length of our home, making our house the third wall of a planter for small palm trees. After we complained to the association, who then passed on the matter to the city, she decided to plant a Ficus tree about 2" from the wall of our home and driveway, at the front corner of our garage. I thought it would stay small, but it's about 6 ft, with foliage creeping over our walls and on the front of our garage. This seems deliberate given our history, and I'm worried about roots. What recourse do I have here? We were unable to stop or change any of the previous things she did

Attorney Answers 2


When I was a baby DDA, i lived in a charming neighborhood with zero lot lines. This configuration of homes can be a delightful experience, or a nightmare depending upon your neighbor. I am presuming that you are the owner and not a renter for purposes of this answer.

Unless you're leaving good outcomes along the way out of your inquiry, your HOA has let you down, and it sounds like the City hasn't been there for you either. Any competent legal approach or advice must be predicated upon a review of your CCRs and the City's municipal code. That said, you've described circumstances that call for aggressive action on your part. If your investment in your home and its upkeep is to be protected, you need an attorney to advocate for you.

Since it's your neighbor, your first course must be as amicable as possible. You don't need a Hatfield/McCoy dynamic every day in the driveway if there is a reasonable alternative. If negotiations with your neighbor are ineffectual, the HOA is the target for your next salvo. While you must always be circumspect in dealing with your association, unless your CCRs leave you high and dry on these issues, you must illustrate to the HOA that ignoring you and failing to exercise authority and reasonably fulfill duties to you should not be an option. Your attorney and you can review your CCRs and determine the consequences (for the association) of an HOA breach of a duty to you as a homeowner. Don't presume that the Board knows what it's doing or has competent legal help. They may just require education. Finally, you can bring this to city hall if you and your attorney decide that the municipal code (or any applicable uniform code provision adopted by the city) is being ignored. Last/worst case, you can seek injunctive relief in the Superior Court

This will all cost money. A competent lawyer's time will not be inexpensive. That said, can you think of any investment worth protecting more than your home? If someone came to your door and threatened to devalue your mutual funds or vandalize your car, would you flinch about lawyering up? Depending upon the documents and what you can prove here, there may be a way to try to compel your neighbor to pay your attorney's fees, although I wouldn't hold my breath on that.

.Good luck.

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Thank you for your prompt and helpful answer! I am the homeowner, and judging by your answer, I have been let down by our HOA. I have already written a polite letter with regard to the tree and am waiting for an answer. Next step will be to go over the CCRs and if she doesn't reply - or comply, I will return the matter to the HOA. If no joy there, I will get legal help. Thank you so much.

Edward Zaryl Kotkin

Edward Zaryl Kotkin


Good luck. Remember the old adage (which I will paraphrase here) as you run this gauntlet - don't do certain things where you eat!


So sorry you have to deal with this neighbor! I am sure it is stressful and something you'd rather not have be a part of your life. This situation is complicated and you would need to retain an attoney to properly assess the situation and analyze your rights, risks and remedies.

Please be advised this does not create an attorney client relationship. You are advised to get further legal advice based on the specific facts of your case.

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This neighbor used to be a legal secretary, so I am guessing she could see the legal implications. After she received my (polite but firm) letter about the tree, she had gardeners arrive the very next morning, and Instructed them to take out the tree. She is extremely loud and attention - seeking, so I am sure the whole neighborhood knew what was going on. She also pointed at, and made loud comments about the trees we had planted in our garden (which do not have invasive roots)....I'm waiting....and will see how things go from here. One thing might lead to another, knowing this woman, but fingers crossed, it's over! Thank you for all the helpful advice and comments on the situation!

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