What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? GA
Hello everyone. I found this forum while searching for information about my plight and I think this is an excellent website.
For the introduction, I am in the military and bought my house in Middle GA in 2006. The homes on my street are all the same and very close together. Given that I don't make much money, I was exstatic to finally own a home (albeit small) for what I considered a great and affordable price. I was a bit concerned of the proximity of the homes (~10' on either side) and that on one side of my home, a fence ran straight across from the neighbor's house to mine about halfway down the house. Then, on that same side, a fence ran from the back corner of my house to the end corner of the backyard (the backyard is only about 10' long as well). In effect, this made the entire side of my house (from the fence on the side, to the end of the fence on the back corner) a part of the neighbor's backyard. I have included links to pictures of the area below. As such, I do not have access to the portion of the side of my house without asking the neighbor to enter their backyard first.
As if not having access to that part of the house w/o asking isn't bad enough, these neighbors are very territorial and hostile (as well as shady and a bunch of other terms if I went into detail). I never bothered to act on this encroachment until an incident a few days ago. The neighbor had a guy pressure washing her house and then started doing it to mine. Knowing that there is a certain way you have to pressure wash vinyl siding so as not to cause water damage (not to mention that I was not asked for permission), I peeked over the fence and asked sternly, but politely as I could "what's going on here?". I was told to "stop asking stupid 'f-ing' questions" and to "get the 'f' back in my house". That blew my lid and I'm thankful I have restraint.
Basically, this neighbor considers that back half side of my house her property. I know this because she has her vines growing up my siding to where they grow into the roof sofets and never bothers to trim them (she has since taken them down for the winter). She also has her shrubs right up against my house. And now, she has that side section of my house pressure washed along with hers so it'll look pretty.
Enough is enough. I want her shrubs and fence moved back. When I bought the house, I never got a survey so I don't know where the property line is. The property line is either right down the side of my house (zero lot line) or midway between our houses. Either way, I think I have grounds for her to remove her fence because I should have access to all parts of my home. I would think if the lot line runs down the side of my home, then an easement should be in place for me to perform maintenance on that side and she would have to move the fences and shrubs back however many feet. If the property line is midway between our homes, of course I could just order her to remove the fences and shrubs from my property, right?
So far, I have researched everything I could as a matter of public record. I have the county code, subdivision covenants, plot maps, and deeds for both homes. I have talked with the city planner (who so happened to approve the maps of the subdivision in 1991). My next step is to get a survey done to find the property line. Then talk with a real estate attorney to see if I have a case in the event she won't heed my letter. Then send a registered letter (CC the attorney) giving her 15 days to remove the fence and shrubs. Does this sound like I'm on the right track? Am I missing a step?
In doing my research, I have come across the term adverse posession and I now know what it is. However, Georgia law says adverse posession can either be 7 or 20 years, but I can't differentiate between the two. The homes were built in 1994 so that's only 14 yrs, but I don't know how long the fences and shrubs have been in place for. The neighbor has lived there for 5 yrs.
Basically after all this long post (and I'm sorry for that, just very determined), could I order her to remove or move back the fence and shrubs. If I could and she doesn't comply, will my case hold up in court? Also, could she possibly claim adverse posession? Thank you in advance for responses.