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Intrusion in easement not adjacent to neighbor's yard

Discussion in 'Easements & Right of Way Law' started by xmattingly, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. xmattingly

    xmattingly Law Topic Starter Guest

    Jurisdiction:
    Missouri
    I have a question about the technicalities of what I assume is trespassing.

    To give you the spatial scenario, I have neighbors immediately to the left and right of me on my street. Our backyards are all adjacent to a large church yard. I have a fenced-in yard, and my understanding is that the easement to the church yard extends a few feet inside my fence line, and a few feet outside of it.

    My next door neighbor has taken to mowing the easement space directly behind my fence (not adjacent to his own yard).

    A little extra back story: I've had this house for a few years. This neighbor has come into my yard at least a few times while I was away at work; to rake leaves away from my fence line adjacent to his yard, and that sort of thing. Within the past year I started working from home. So he no longer comes directly INTO my yard, but still does "yard work" in the easement behind my fence, adjacent to the church; I've photographed him doing this a few times. There is definitely a passive-aggressive vibe to his activities.

    My question is, is this trespassing? And what actions can I take against him? I've been documenting, and I don't want to be that angry guy who pounds on his door and demand that he mind his own business. I'd prefer to know what the implications are before I take any action against him.

    Thank you!
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    What a small minded thing to be concerned with.

    No, it's not trespassing.

    He's mowing the grass that YOU should be mowing. You should bake him cookies and thank him.

    As for being in your yard (doing you a favor) all you had to do was ask him not to. But since he doesn't do it anymore, chill out.

    If you ask me, it's your reaction that's a bit passive-aggressive (loony).

    There's no legal issue here. Give it a rest.

    (I know - I'm rude, crude, and blunt. But that's how I roll with small minded people.)
     
  3. xmattingly

    xmattingly New Member

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    What a small minded answer. If it's grass that "I should be mowing", that would indicate trespassing. Neither does it address the pattern of behavior, which includes times that my neighbor DID enter my back yard, as described. Troll somewhere else, jerkoff.
     
  4. xmattingly

    xmattingly New Member

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    The comment from AJ was definitely not helpful. To clarify for anyone else who might be able to offer any advice, I'm looking for insight about legal implications. Personal judgment / character assassination is not welcome.

    Keep in mind that the easement intrusion fits into a pattern of behavior carried out by this neighbor over the past few years.
     
  5. txls

    txls Well-Known Member

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    It's behind your fence and it's an easement. If the easement is granted to the church, perhaps he's mowing it on behalf of the church. He may not even know it's technically your property. Honestly it sounds like he's being a good Samaritan. I don't think adjuster jack was far off the mark in his response. This site is all volunteer, so we reserve the privilege of responding candidly, not just legally. If you want a purely legal response please consult with an attorney and pay their fee. I have a neighbor who frequently mows part of our non-fenced yard. I don't mind one bit. If a neighbor was coming inside my fence without my permission, I think I would have simply knocked on his door and politely asked him not to do so.
     
  6. xmattingly

    xmattingly New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, txls. Candid is one thing. Taking an honest question and making an obnoxious personal judgment without even knowing the entire context is entirely another; volunteer or not, that sort of thing is NOT what this site is intended for, and I think you know that.

    I can tell you that my neighbor is definitely not mowing on behalf of the church; they have their own ground crew (and YES, they mow right up to my fence line), and he's not a member. Again, it's a pattern of behavior. A few other factors:
    1. I've talked with him many times over the past few years. Although it's blatantly obvious that he's been in my yard at times, he's never once actually mentioned it. And like I said, only definitely trespassed inside my yard when I wasn't home. 2. He's never intruded into the neighbor to his left's area, and as far as my easement he goes directly behind my yard, only. Never as far as the neighbor on my right. 3. The grass really isn't even tall enough to mow, yet. No other neighbor on my street has started to mow, and he's been back there TWICE, within two days. I'm not making this up.

    Anyway, there is being neighborly, and there is also being underhanded. Then, there's also the law. I know this isn't a huge issue and I'm not making a federal case of it, but it's definitely some weirdly antagonistic behavior that I want to nip in the bud. I'm just trying to get some insight before I "politely ask him to mind his own business", so I have a better idea of what to expect if, for whatever reason, I need to escalate this.

    Maybe I need to simplify my question: Is repeated, unwarranted entry into an easement that is not adjacent to someone's own property considered trespassing?

    Thanks again.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Non-jerk answer - No.

    Let's start with Missouri statute:

    569.150. 1. A person commits the offense of trespass in the second degree if he enters unlawfully upon real property of another. This is an offense of absolute liability.
    2. Trespass in the second degree is an infraction.


    An infraction is like a traffic ticket. He would get a small fine if convicted but I don't think he would be convicted.

    Here's a couple of definitions from Black's Law Dictionary that help explain why.

    UNLAWFULLY - The term is commonly used in indictments for statutory crimes, to show that the act constituting the offense was in violation of a positive law, especially where the statute itself uses the same phrase.

    Mowing grass is not a crime.

    UNLAWFUL ENTRY - An entry upon lands effected peaceably and without force, but which is without color of title and is accomplished by means of fraud or some other willful wrong.

    He entered peaceably. He entered without force. He had no color of title. But he DID NOT enter by means of fraud or any willful wrong.

    So, he's not guilty of Trespass in the Second Degree.

    Now, let's look at:

    569.140. 1. A person commits the crime of trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure or upon real property.
    2. A person does not commit the crime of trespass in the first degree by entering or remaining upon real property unless the real property is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or as to which notice against trespass is given by:
    (1) Actual communication to the actor; or
    (2) Posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.
    3. Trespass in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor.


    It's obvious that he isn't guilty of trespass in the first degree because there was no barrier (locked gate or fully fenced - but you haven't said) to prevent him, by your own admission you never told him not to, and you apparently haven't posted your property with a warning sign.

    As for the area behind the fence that he apparently mows for the church there certainly isn't any crime to that.

    So, now I'll be a jerk again and say all you've got is your small-minded pettiness at work here. Get over it. Find something constructive to do with your life rather than picking on a neighbor whose intent is to do something nice for somebody else.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You can start by verifying your boundaries.
    That could be to commission a survey, or review the existing survey.

    I've endured the type of person you describe.
    What some might term "helpful", I found to be obnoxious, oafish, boorish behavior.
    I've learned to ignore the OCD afflicted thug.
    Ignoring certain behaviors of others causes the organism to eventually extinguish these invasive behaviors because they fail to receive the attention they seek.

    Other than fencing off, or in our case walling off these clowns, making your home a safer fortress for your enjoyment; reasoning with these creatures rarely works.

    Isolation does keep them from intruding your realm and disrupting your privacy.
     
  9. xmattingly

    xmattingly New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, army judge. Yeah, I'm probably going to go ahead and get an update(d) survey. This clown definitely doesn't have any sense of boundaries, and having given it a few years can say with certainty that he'll just keep testing those limits. And he's not even of the "helpful neighbor" variety that you mentioned; like I said, I've talked with him many times, yet he's never directly offered to "help" me with yard work. This is a 60 year old man living with his 80 year old mother, and he asks her to ask me instead. Then goes ahead and does whatever he damn well feels like in my yard when I'm not around… kind of a Norman Bates vibe. She's a little old lady who has had a stroke, and I'm treading carefully to avoid upsetting her. If she weren't around, I would be happy to just tell Norman to kindly f**k off.

    Anyway. I've been documenting; just need to "set the trap" so to speak, so if talking fails, I'll have something ready to spring on him.
     
  10. txls

    txls Well-Known Member

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    As long as he remains outside of your fence, let it go. And if you really want to avoid upsetting the little old lady, put a lock on your gate if you think he's been coming in when you're not home.
     
    adjusterjack likes this.
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Fences, very high fences and locks on gates, solve many petty issues and quiet the resultant squabbles.
     
  12. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Ditto that.
     
  13. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    A very tall privacy fence might keep you from seeing what he is doing & then maybe it will not bother you so much & lock your gates.
     

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