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Question DetailsAsked on 5/28/2015

Can my neighbor install sprinklers in the neutral (county land) area behind his house and not allow access?

I would like to install a deck on the back of my home and my neighbor refuses to provide his signature to satisfy the HOA's requirement of ensuring neighbors are okay with your construction. There is a six foot wide, county owned buffer or green zone running parallel to our houses. It separates us from the homes behind us. I liken it to an alley and it is the access point I would use to deliver my construction materials, but my neighbor has completely encroached this area, planting grass and installing sprinklers. Over concerns for his "investment" on this land he does not own, he is not permitting me to put up my deck. Can he do that? What are my options or rights? Can he be fined for using the county land?

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If county land (actually county titled) you could complain to them about this - they might fine him, or demand he vacate the land.


I would suspect it is actually probably a utility or drainage easement which is actually half your land and half his, with the access easement overlaid on top of that partly on each property. Check your title documents for a copy of the as-built survey done when you bought the property - usually attached to the title insurance paperwork. Also would be shown on the Plat of the subdivision at the County (in most areas, occasionally State) Recorder's Office. It may well be he is trespassing on your land if he has put in sprinklers and is mowing it all - it may well be he is even trying to gain ownership of that strip of your land through adverse possession.


Also - it has long been established in the courts that HOA's cannot prohibit ordinary household construction or improvements or activities as long as it is not disruptive of the neighborhood - so you have to follow general design maximum building heights, and color arrangements and such that are in the codicils or title restrictions or covenants, but he generally cannot prevent you building a deck unless it is going to encroach on property lines in violation of required setbacks. Also, a requirement that your neighbors agree to any construction or whatever you want to do is an unlawful denial of your ownership rights - that was settled many decades ago in famous California and Florida gated community cases. If the plat covenants or Planning and Zoning regulations don't prohibit it, generally you can do it. Though you might need an attorney to write a letter to the HOA pointing this out. This assumes that you actually OWN the property, and that the land is not in joint or cooperative ownership like common lands held by a condo association with a multi-unit building or planned community with homeowner's association owning and maintaining all the common grounds and streets and such, which is a whole different story - that is more like an apartment building situation with regard to your rights because you do not actually own or control the land your "home" sits on.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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