A Guide to Being a Good Neighbor
While homeownership brings much more freedom than life in a rental, it is not always a free pass to do whatever you want. Being a good neighbor means being friendly, perhaps baking a cake, and definitely not infringing on your neighbors property.
You probably have the neighborly smile and wave down pat, especially if you are a midwesterner like us, and the cake shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But do you know how to be a good neighbor when it comes to respecting your neighbors’ property lines? Here are a few tips:
Respect Boundary Lines
These are the very foundation of private property and should be adhered to. With that said, it is important to understand that property boundary lines can not be seen in the physical world – fences are not boundary lines! True property lines exist only on paper in a land survey, or as marked physically by your surveyor. Understanding this is vital to preserving harmony between neighbors.
So what is encroachment? It is the legal term for going beyond your property line. A typical encroachment is when you or your neighbor build a shed or fence that is partially or entirely on neighboring property.
While not very neighborly, encroachments can also be a serious legal issue. A boundary survey is the only way to determine true encroachments, and is the starting point for discussing these issues with your neighbor.
Follow Fence Etiquette
Following a combination of fence law and common courtesy can go a long way towards making the installation of a fence a non-issue among neighbors. Be sure to communicate (in person!) with your neighbors if you are considering a fence and be clear about what type of fence you are planning to construct, and who will be paying for the fence if it sits on a boundary line. Be sure to get a boundary survey completed prior to installing the fence to avoid any confusion about property lines!
Be Aware of Trees & Shrubs
Don’t forget about the natural barriers that may be impacting your neighbors as well. Trees and bushes should be trimmed so that they do not encroach on your neighbors property, and beware that property owners have the right to trim those that do. Of course, talking with your neighbor before taking a chainsaw to their tree is always a good idea.
Talk it Out
Regardless of what the issue is, communication among neighbors is key to creating a friendly community with a sense of camaraderie. A land survey can help avoid any confusion about where the property lines are located, and a good neighbor will always respect those boundary lines and expect the same in return.
And if all else fails? You might just want to bake a cake.