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Author Topic: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land  (Read 3195 times)

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Offline bigtrees

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I am close to closing on a tree farm (not Christmas trees, lumber trees) in the Western United States. I'm from the area originally but now live in a city, since engineering jobs are hard to come by in the rural west. It's been my lifelong dream to purchase land in rural forested country and I'm excited to be able to close on it in the next week or two.

This really will be my first time buying vacant forested land, and I'm struggling with how to become a new owner, in polite manner, while making sure I maintain the rights I have in the property we're buying.

Specifically, one of the bordering property owners, who has lived there about a year, has had pretty free reign in what he did in the vicinity. The previous owner to the property I'm buying lived in a different part of the country, so the bordering property owner did pretty much what he wanted. This included driving his ATV on the property we're closing on, skidding and piling tree tops and branches in slash piles for him to burn (again, on the property we're buying). He also helped himself to downed timber he found the property for use to stock his firewood supply.

So, I wish to put my foot down, and say no more piling logging debris on the property, no more motorized vehicle use (occasional pedestrian use is ok), and no more helping himself to the fallen timber on our property.

I'm really not sure how to politely let him know? My feeling is that he treats all of the vacant land around him as his own, and won't be keen that we are telling him not to use ours.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 06:43:12 PM »
Be firm and state that you are now the property owner and as such you will abide by the property lines and expect him to do so too.  I would not even allow the; "(occasional pedestrian use is ok)".  Suppose that he trips, falls, and hurts himself.  Since you gave him permission to occasionally be there, guess what, it is now your fault.

Your property is yours for 100% of the use.  Do not compromise nor deviate from abiding by the property lines.  If this is a problem with him, then he would not have been your friend anyway.

Oh, and Welcome to the Forestry Forum.  :)
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Offline Autocar

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 06:58:29 PM »
I would take time to interduce yourself to your neighbor and that will open a door for you to say whats on your mind. Pretty hard to police your property when you don't live there bbbbut you can tell them no more slash and firewood logs all I want is you to respect my rights. But now a days Respect is something a lot of folks don't know what it means. Good luck 

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 07:08:28 PM »
I kinda had that problem when I built here. Yes,this was family land but no one lived here. My Father grew up here.I built a house and posted land behind me. I wanted others to know there is a house here now. Neighbors,none really here,at that time. But others said I've been hunting that land my whole life and will keep doing it. I said,well I've owned it my whole life. It's posted for a reason,and it be a good idea to abide by the signs. Have had no problems. Yes,it's your land and don't feel bad owning it. ;)
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Offline Sixacresand

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2018, 08:15:44 PM »
If your land has a good roads, especially near the perimeter, drive it regularly and make you presence known.  

Online YellowHammer

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2018, 10:06:30 PM »
It's a common problem, generally not solved by beating around the bush.  Tell him politely but respectfully.  Then be prepared to be ignored.  Then prepare to be bad mouthed to your neighbors. Then prepare for fences to be torn down, vandalism to go up, and the police to eventually be involved.  Then be prepared to be not on speaking terms.  

Been there done that. More than once, actually several times.  Just go ahead and get it over with.  It's a pattern.  People who don't respect property lines when owners are absent won't respect property lines when people are there.  

 
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 10:24:40 PM »
   I'd go meet him and tell you have bought the land and are restricting access because of liability issues and because of your planned land use and ask him to help you keep an eye on the property especially where his line borders yours and tell him you will do the same to help keep an eye out for his property. If he asks for access to cut downed timber for firewood and such tell him to check with you first and accommodate him if you reasonably can. Good neighbors are worth more than money in the bank if you can cultivate them properly. 
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Offline barbender

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2018, 10:30:29 PM »
Lots of good advice here👍 
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2018, 11:05:52 PM »
I agree with Yellowhammer completely here, and I have been there and done it too.  This guy is a leach, a thief, and will never be an asset to you.  The only thing he will understand is point blank, blunt, straight talk.  I would also send it to him via USPS regular mail and certified mail after the face to face, for when the police get involved.  He will only comprehend assertive determination greater than his own.  

We live in an area where folks think that since their great, great, grand paw from 150 years ago owned some piece of land they have inherited rights to do as they please on the land, even though great, great, grand paw chose to sell the land and retire in Ft. Lauterdale, rather than give it to his own kin for who knows what ever reason.  

Folks would take great libertines in our crop and pasture land, I had a few heated run-ins where I am sure my name was ill spoken of later, but you know what these days folks respect our land, and we have no issues on the sales / business front as a result.  

Most decent folks don't agree with those who take liberties with that which is not theirs, but they won't take the lead in standing up to the bullies.  All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing.  
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2018, 12:01:09 AM »
At this time, you dont know if he is a potential friend or foe.  I mean, he may be of use to you and he may be potentially a huge problem for you.  Assuming you know which he is would be a mistake.  He may be a nice guy who had some kind of an okay to do what he did.  He may be an outlaw that'll burn your skidder just to show he can.  Youre best to study him first and then make your decision.  


Given the choice of peace or war, most will choose peace.  But he will be studying you too.  Do you have the spine to whoop him or will you back down?  Are the cops worth a darn?  Here where i live you are on your own, the law has no intention of arresting anyone for anything.  So your capacity to wage war with a neighbor is what gets you respected or robbed.  If youre gonna talk, be ready to back it up.  Once a bluff is called its awful hard to get that respect back.

If youve just got to go say something now, short sweet and firm.  "He buddy, im your new neighbor, nice to meet ya.  It appears you used to come over here and do as you please and thats fine, whatever the last owner tolerated was his business and i wont hold that against ya.  From here out though, i expect you to mind my boundary.  I aim to be a good neighbor, but i wont tolerate trespassing or any other BS for that matter.  Thats not going to be an issue for us, right?"


If you prefer a more covert strategy, find an image of someone on a deer camera in similar forest as yours, download to your phone, go meet him realy friendly like and say hey do you know this guy? I just bought the place and caught him on 2 of my cameras, im looking to beat his ____.

Itll get the message across that you arent one to fool with.
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Offline Runningalucas

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2018, 12:50:29 AM »
Hey, just friendly advice, but before you go 'lay down the law' to the guy who's probably been arrested more times than you can count; make sure you're fully versed with the law.

In Idaho, it's open range; yes, seriously go look it up; I cannot count the number of times I've had a shotgun pointed in my face, and the idiot doing it is the one who's asking for trouble...long term.... after I get blown away...lol.  The only time it's not open range, is when clearly marked continuously around the perimeter, in a manner consistent with state laws.  I've not had a problem with it, but either every 40', it has to be a orange painted post, or signage, 'no trespassing'. 

Actually, I'm not even sure if that will hold too much water, the open range laws basically read you can go anywhere that's not actively growing crops, or near there. 

I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt, "I thought I was in the right", is asking to be sunk. 

Magicman is 1000% correct, if you allow anyone at all, give permission, then you're liable; same thing applies to any 'lent', or  'borrowed' items, usually the liability falls on the owner.... so I personally don't loan anything out.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2018, 01:22:29 AM »
So the law says land access is Free range, but landowner is liable for it?!  I kinda have my doubts.

 Every state in new england for example, has "hold harmless" laws where free recreational access gives the private landowner protection from civil suit in the event of loss, injury or death.  If not for these laws the many hiking trail systems surely would not exist. Appalachian trail, monadnock-metacomet etc.   I was a land acess rep for a 4wd association many years ago and recited them to landowners all the time.  Most never heard of them.
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Offline Runningalucas

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2018, 01:53:37 AM »
So the law says land access is Free range, but landowner is liable for it?!  I kinda have my doubts.

 Every state in new england for example, has "hold harmless" laws where free recreational access gives the private landowner protection from civil suit in the event of loss, injury or death.  If not for these laws the many hiking trail systems surely would not exist. Appalachian trail, monadnock-metacomet etc.   I was a land acess rep for a 4wd association many years ago and recited them to landowners all the time.  Most never heard of them.
I never said I was any sort of expert; as I will never be.  My overall point in my post, was learn the specifics of the laws in any given area, and the underlying message not clearly stated: if given the time for the research, and thinking over any advice given, he may find a great solution to the problem.

In regards to your doubt, you should have doubt, I do.  I try to research the hell out of anything; if I screw up at that point, through preparation via good research, I may just be prepared for that given screw up at the moment it happens.  

Beyond that, as far as doubts, definitely not an expert, but via my wife, I'm a fully fledged licensed up across the board insurance agent.  I don't know a *DanG thing about it, other than you might as well be a lawyer, and study it 24/7; that's what's required to claim any real knowledge; perhaps an underwriter, but I've talked to enough of them, to know not that *not* many know without research.  

The number one lesson I learned via insurance??? You'd better duck, because there's always a catch 22.  

Could you be held liable for someone that you gave permission to?  Absolutely.  Could you be held liable for someone you didn't give permission to? Possibly.  Could you be held liable for someone you didn't give permission to, and also crossed posted no trespassing signs? I doubt it, but if I was really concerned I'd research, ask others, and figure it out from there.  

Does that work?

EDIT: added *not*

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2018, 06:57:49 AM »
But in that case the member had permission to access the land, different scenarios.
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2018, 07:47:06 AM »
I have discovered that actually determining and marking boundary lines is a great start. Many boundaries are vague, not marked or obvious. It also gives you just cause for placing signs, which you can determine whether and/or whom you are going to enforce against.

A surveyor is a great investment in making irrefutable line markings. I had a neighbor blatantly on my property around my mill taking pix early one Sunday. As I approached, he took off the other direction. I picked-up the pace and eventually confronted him about what he was doing. He indicated that he believed that I had encroached over his property line. So, I invited him to walk with me as I showed him the survey markers and explained. He suggested that I may have moved them or that perhaps they weren't correct. Thus, I politely suggested, "Do your do-diligence and if you determine that I'm in error, I will correct any issues with no questions asked."

Never heard another thing about it, so I paid a visit on Christmas eve with a little gift and so it goes...possible enemy turned into friendly neighbor. I worked from fact, not ancient supposition or "he said...she said." My argument was on solid footing.

I think you may be surprised at the outcome, but paying a little visit with a six-pack, a nice little chat....AFTER surveyors substantiate your claims. If you don't care to spend the money on survey stakes, a FABULOUS app for your own use in determining boundaries is ON X. It's a hunting app that utilizes GPS and overlays in marking property boundaries. I use it ALL the time for various reasons...it's absolutely a wonderful app worth ever penny.

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Offline Corley5

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2018, 09:33:24 AM »
My advice is don't go into the first meeting with the neighbor half cocked ready for a confrontation.  He could just as well be a really super guy and a good neighbor.  Don't make an enemy out of someone who isn't.
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Offline LeeB

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2018, 10:29:02 AM »
Interesting replies. There is another post on this board from the other side of the fence. 
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Offline TKehl

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2018, 03:36:01 PM »
I'm all for talking and walking the lines.  He may mean no harm and he could be doing what was agreed on with the previous owner.  Don't know how many acres we're talking, but good fences make good neighbors.  ;D

One more thought, by removing the downed trees and stacking tops, he's been doing a service in keeping fuelwood down and providing wildlife habitat.  Don't know if forest fires are an issue in your specific area or not, but are in large parts of the west. 

Unless you hunt or can use the firewood, I would consider allowing him to continue (either one or both) in exchange for keeping an eye on the place.  May be the cheapest insurance there is.  ;)
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Offline WDH

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2018, 08:25:20 PM »
I would make my expectations clear and concise.  You can do this in a personal visit face to face.  Like Magicman says, tell him your expectations up front, and do not compromise.  You don't have to be a butt-hole doing it, but you should be crystal clear on your expectation as it comes to the use of your property. Like has been mentioned, don't assume anything or "beat around the bush". 
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2018, 09:38:58 PM »
So the law says land access is Free range, but landowner is liable for it?!  I kinda have my doubts.

 Every state in new england for example, has "hold harmless" laws where free recreational access gives the private landowner protection from civil suit in the event of loss, injury or death.  If not for these laws the many hiking trail systems surely would not exist. Appalachian trail, monadnock-metacomet etc.   I was a land acess rep for a 4wd association many years ago and recited them to landowners all the time.  Most never heard of them.
It definitely depends on the laws of your state. Mike is right: here in Vermont, if a landowner gives someone permission to use their land, they are not liable if the visitor gets hurt (except in cases of gross negligence on the part of the landowner). If the landowner charges for access (e.g. charges someone to hunt, or charges a snowmobile/ATV club for the use of a trail on his land), that exemption from liability no longer applies. You are held to a different standard for "commercial use".
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2018, 10:06:37 PM »
You may not be liable in the end of it all, but what will it cost you?  The problem is attorneys decide what is "gross negligence" and insurance companies determine just what it's worth to invest in said attorney.  

Is a 16' cable gate with a single piece of 10' PVC pipe across it reasonable or gross negligence? I suspect the answer is "it depends" and a major factor is likely the gate owners net worth.  Brought to you by the law firm of We, Cheat'em, and How.     
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2018, 11:11:17 PM »
I guess it depends on the size of the injured persons pockets.  Attorneys dont work for free and dont waste their time on probono cases with low payout odds.  Historically the hold harmless laws of the northeast have been quite robust.  Its been 10yrs or more since i was involved and they may have weathered a bit, but id been told they were rock solid.  What puts you at risk is accepting "donations" of money, labor, swag etc which many landowners did. 

Its kinda like FOPA of 1986.  Some states are known to stomp on it and some are known to not even investigate.  Or like self defense laws and castle doctrine.  In mass you might be well within the letter of the law and still go to prison for self defense after years in court.  In most of TN, dude crosses your fence middle of the night and gets shot, not much to investigate.  

Theres shades of gray. No one has all the answers and there are no true guarantees in life. 

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Offline John Mc

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2018, 07:18:08 AM »
Back to the OP's question. I would certainly start with a polite conversation, expressing whatever rules you have for your property.

As soon as you get home, I would write yourself some notes on the conversation: what you said and what he said, the date and time of the conversation and the date & time you wrote the notes. In most cases, showing that the offender was aware he/she was doing something wrong increases the chances of holding them accountable. It's likely to be your word against his (unless you have a spouse or friend go with you), but notes taken immediately after the conversation carry a surprising amount of weight in the eyes of a judge.
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2018, 09:45:12 PM »
Maybe I missed it in the tread? 
Get it surveyed, pin the corners, paint and blaze the lines and add inter-visible 
points on line.  Makes it easy, you know what you have and so do the neighbor(s).

 Ask the Surveyor to send notice of the work to be performed to all the adjoiners,
Its also a good way for the Surveyor to get maps and other info on the land
and the adjoiners get a notification before you have introduce yourself,

Best
Dgdrls







Offline Magicman

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2018, 09:49:06 PM »
Very good advice and spoken by a Registered Land Surveyor.  8)
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Offline bigtrees

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2018, 10:49:50 AM »
Thanks all. I think I will need a polite but firm letter to the adjacant owner letting him know that we are the new owners and we wish to close the property at this time, and ask that he discontinue his use of the land. I'll explain that my wife and I just bought the property and we want a chance to check out and see what we bought and develop our management plans first. Eventually we may be able to reopen it in the future but we need some time to get acquainted with the property first.

I also agree about marking property boundaries. Surveyors have been in there to locate the corners. One of my first projects will be to flag the lines so everybody knows where they are. I think that will help eliminate any confusion.

Appreciate your suggestions.

Offline WDH

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2018, 08:23:34 PM »
A face-to-face, polite, but firm, conversation is more personal than a letter.  A letter is a one-way communication.  A face-to-face allows for discussion and hopefully better understanding.  In any event, good luck with it. 
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2018, 09:57:59 PM »
Im with WDH.  Realtime feedback is critical in all human interactions in order to adjust your words as you go for best outcome, and you dont get that in a letter.  I dont think i ever got a letter "informing me" of anything that i didnt curse at.  It sets the stage for sour relations.  "Oh look its the new jerk next door who sent us that BS letter." 

 The survey letter otoh comes off as just a business doing its job.  Like the electric company checking meters or something.  
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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2018, 11:25:30 PM »
Carry a cell phone, be prepared to dial 911 before it gets out of control, not after.  

Routinely patrol the fenceline, if possible, to make your presence known.  

Rarely have I had it work out without some sort of delayed trouble, even if verbal, however it does occasionally.  Once I talked to a habitual vandal's preacher.  On another time, I talked to another fellows parents.  Once I made a deal with a cop that he could hunt my land if he would stop the trespassers and fence cutters.

Other times it doesn't work out so well.  

Owning land has its downside.  
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Offline Runningalucas

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2018, 12:07:08 AM »
I think I've experienced Yellowhammer's neighbors, but in my neck of the woods.  Surveyor's are the intelligent route to go, but I'd make sure the neighbor is good with them, as in accepting of the given surveyor's qualifications; people can just get weird.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2018, 08:37:27 AM »
 Once I made a deal with a cop that he could hunt my land if he would stop the trespassers and fence cutters.
    Reminds me of the tale my dad used to tell. Said there were a lot of burglaries in the community and nobody could catch the thief. Finally a young man went to the sheriff and told him if he'd hire him as a deputy he'd put a stop to the theft. Sheriff hired him and thefts stopped. Years later sheriff asked him how he stopped the thefts. Deputy told him "I stopped stealing."
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Offline luvmexfood

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2018, 07:10:39 PM »
I might go the route of a personal conversation. Heck he might turn out to be a nice guy and keep and eye on things when your not around. Then follow it up with a letter or memo stressing the points you covered. Could even get his email address and send it with a receipt required. In any event if you send anything written without a return receipt he could claim he never received. 
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Offline caveman

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2018, 07:26:03 PM »
My dad and I own a few acres of land about a half hour away from where we live so we are unable to go there often.  There is section 8 housing, at the junction of Crack and Murder, separated by our property and a Dollar General.  The fences were routinely cut and a trail of trash was present across the property along the footpath.  When the fences were last built, we had styles installed on the path.  Knowing that we could not prevent the trespassers, we just made it easy for them to cross without cutting the fences.  The property borders a major highway and cattle often graze the land which would create quite a liability if one was to make it to the road and be struck by a car.  Not the best situation but the fence has not been cut since.

A face to face meeting with the adjoining landowner would be my first course of action.
Caveman

Offline coxy

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2018, 08:56:01 PM »
I'm on the other side of the fence  a good talk does a lot just do not tell his kids if they have any to tell there parents to stay off that's what my new jack  ss neighbor did  wasn't man enough to tell me  that's all I'm going to say 

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Re: Politely telling neighboring property owner about use of our land
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2018, 11:56:36 AM »
I guess I was Lucky, when I bought my current property one neighbor was hunting on it and another was cutting a small field for hay. Both where allowed by the old owner at no cost.
Both have stopped when I bought the land, the old owner told them that he sold the land.
Neither one asked if they could continue, they just quit.

I had a tresspasser looking for Morels in the woods, he came over from one of the neighbors who had given him permission. He did not know property lines which I straighten him out on.

IN WI you do not have to post your land to prosecute trespassers. Its the trespassers responsibility to know where they are, if they are on your land they can be prosecuted. Its the best way in my opinion.


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