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Does a neighbor planting bushes on my property constitute tresspass and can I remove them

Midlothian, VA |

Both the neighbor and I have gotten surveys and the neighbor has planted them on my property. What can I do about it without incurring a significant amount of expense do to no fault of mine.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

You may remove, with legal authority, anything that encroaches on your property. Share your survey with your neighbor. Work together. That will make things go much more smoothly

Posted

"Nasty neighbor" cases are the worst both in terms of financial and personal stress impact. Presuming that your neighbor's survey flags or yours were not present when the bushes were planted (i.e., the bushes pre-date the surveys) then that doesn't excuse the neighbor. the simplest, 'low cost' way to deal with this would be to send the neighbor a letter advising them of your belief that the bushes are planted on your property, that you are permitting them to stay there, but that such permission does not create thereby any right of access to 'your side' of the plantings, which you will maintain by mowing/mulching/feeding appropriately. This is of course presuming that the bushes are attractive and not the kind that create gardening misery. You could legally 'self-help' and cut them back to exactly the property line but DO NOT DO THIS- it is an automatic invitation to being charged with destruction of personal property (which is a crime in Virginia) and widening an already bad rift. Otherwise, go ahead and file in the General District Court seeking to remove the bushes if you don't like them. My recommendation is that instead you write the letter, and offer to have 'trimming sessions' if the bushes are the kind that do require such in order to avoid becoming straggley- then offer your neighbor iced tea- water- beer- whatever, and try to come to a point of agreement. Good neighbors are better than lawsuits any day.

Legal issues often depend on the specific facts in any given case or situation. Please do NOT utilize the information you receive as either a binding legal opinion in your case, nor presume that I am your counsel because I've answered a question you had. Any legal representation is accomplished by written contract ONLY, signed by each of us.

Posted

I agree with my colleagues. Underlying this may be a belief by neighbor that the property is theirs and by planting the bushes, neighbor can be setting himself or herself up for a claim of the property under the doctrine of adverse possession. Consent is a defense to this claim. You may want to create a paper trail that you have given consent for the planting of the bushes on YOUR property. Best of luck.

Actively practicing law in Texas. Inactive licenses in Arizona and Georgia. All answers are general in nature and no attorney/client relationship exists in this forum.

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