• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Whose property is this?

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

Blue23

New member
What is the name of your state? Massachusetts

I own a single family house in a residential neighborhood. The utilities in the neighborhood are underground, as it's a new development. The developer is a serial cheapskate and as such, the lots/layout have some awkward lot lines, angles, layouts, slopes, title/surveying issues, etc.

Towards the front of my property, but still completely on my property, there is a green box in one of my landscaped beds. The box has the lines from the cable companies. When I wanted Verizon FiOS a few years ago, they had to snake the fiber underground, from the street, to that box, and into the house.

However, in the past year, Comcast (not my cable company) has hired a contractor to work on their lines. They frequently go around to all the boxes in the neighborhood, and have a field day (literally). They put lines in, pull lines out—purportedly upgrading them. Also, if a neighbor wants service, they'll walk around to all the boxes and fool around digging for hours—messing up the landscaping and everything.

Every time this happens, they come on to my property, dig up my landscaped bed, and then leave it. I end up finding it messed up. I fix the mulch and cover it back up.

A month later, they trespass again, make a mess, and leave it. I'll notice it and fix it and cover it again.

This has gone on for a couple years, and I'm never home when they do it, but I've seen the trucks at other houses. They're all subcontractors and the trucks are always different companies.

This last time, they spray-painted on the box "Do not cover." Functionally, it can be covered. It's because they don't want to look for the box.

But they should not be trespassing onto my property without my permission regardless. Further, they do not need to access my box. I don't use Comcast, and this work has nothing to do with me.

The thing is—other neighbors have their box out on the curb, but their lots/site plans specifically crop out that area, and there is a retaining wall around it. Mine is on my property because the developer was a cheapskate and wanted to fit in as many lots as possible. As such, there are quirks like this.

So whose property is it? On one hand, it's on my property, but on the other hand, I'm sure there's some obscure law with respect to utilities that complicates it. Also, there is no electric in this box. That's a different box. The developer is not the landlord. I own the house, as do my neighbors theirs.

Thanks.
 


quincy

Senior Member
What came first, the box or the sale of the lot?

It sounds as if the cable company has a utility easement. You can check your property documents to see if the easement is noted.

In the meantime, I suggest you stop landscaping over the box.
 
Last edited:

FarmerJ

Senior Member
Is it time to make a giant boulder with a hollow inside out of spray insulation foam and paint it this summer to slip over the top of the box so it looks like a landscaping boulder ? it may be on your property but my guess also is that there is a utility easement there and if they don't have a recorded easement it would take you a mountain of money to fight for its removal and most likely you wouldn't succeed since they would have their legal department ( deep pockets ) fight to keep it there by claiming a prescriptive easement since the lines are already there. And so you are clear about this all it takes is ONE utility to have a easement such as say the telephone company and then the catv / broadband companies can come in and run their lines adjacent to the phone companies too.
 
Last edited:

quincy

Senior Member
Is it time to make a giant boulder with a hollow inside out of spray insulation foam and paint it this summer to slip over the top of the box so it looks like a landscaping boulder ? it may be on your property but my guess also is that there is a utility easement there
If the utility box is covered (with mulch, a fake boulder, whatever), the utility company should be made aware of the box location or the landscaping will continue to be torn up in a search for it.
 

FarmerJ

Senior Member
making a fake rock to have a old black rotary dial wall telephone sticking out of it facing the road could be a hint.
 

quincy

Senior Member
A big neon arrow pointing to the location of the box could work, too. :)

I think it is probably better to landscape AROUND the box rather than over the box.
 
Last edited:

Blue23

New member
What came first, the box or the sale of the lot?

It sounds as if the cable company has a utility easement. You can check your property documents to see if the easement is noted.

In the meantime, I suggest you stop landscaping over the box.
If memory serves me correctly, at the time the lot was sold, there were conduits sticking out of the ground...no house was built. There was no box, or wires, just the conduits. There is no utility easement...I just checked the assessment/map. My neighbor has an easement—there is this outcropping at the front of their property where the retaining wall goes behind and around their box...it also has an electrical/transformer unit there. I do not have a transformer, just this box.

When the house was built, everything was brought up to grade landscaping wise, and the electrician put the box in when he did the work.

I know the box physically can't be moved, as the conduits that feed it are well underground, and you just can't reposition all of that as well.

I just want to know if I'm in my right to cover it, and if they need my permission to get in there. It's not critical infrastructure like power or water, nor is it a public utility.

Also, if at some point I want to put a fence up (as neighbors kids get bigger and rowdier), then they wouldn't be able to just come and go in and out of there, and then we'd have an issue.

I honestly don't care, but it's when they just show up unannounced, make a huge mess, the mulch goes into the grass and everything, and then just leave.
 

justalayman

Senior Member
If there is no legal right for the box to be there you can demand they move it. In lieu of moving it you can negotiate the terms and allow an easement. That could include they repair any damage to your lawn or allow you to cover it.

You might even suggest they modify the installation and install a quazite box rather than a pedestal type of installation. I don’t know the specifics of the installation so I can’t say for certain a quazite box can be used but it would eliminate the eyesore issue.


Btw: yes, it can be moved. All it takes is time and enough money and it can be moved.
 

154NH773

Senior Member
“There is no utility easement...I just checked the assessment/map.”

I suggest you have a title search done to determine whether an easement exists. It is possible that the developer granted a utility easement that now encumbers your property. Assessment maps are not a reliable source for determining easements, which must be researched at the registry of deeds, because they may have originated in prior deeds.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
If memory serves me correctly, at the time the lot was sold, there were conduits sticking out of the ground...no house was built. There was no box, or wires, just the conduits. There is no utility easement...I just checked the assessment/map. My neighbor has an easement—there is this outcropping at the front of their property where the retaining wall goes behind and around their box...it also has an electrical/transformer unit there. I do not have a transformer, just this box.

When the house was built, everything was brought up to grade landscaping wise, and the electrician put the box in when he did the work.

I know the box physically can't be moved, as the conduits that feed it are well underground, and you just can't reposition all of that as well.

I just want to know if I'm in my right to cover it, and if they need my permission to get in there. It's not critical infrastructure like power or water, nor is it a public utility.

Also, if at some point I want to put a fence up (as neighbors kids get bigger and rowdier), then they wouldn't be able to just come and go in and out of there, and then we'd have an issue.

I honestly don't care, but it's when they just show up unannounced, make a huge mess, the mulch goes into the grass and everything, and then just leave.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

They will continue to make a mess of your landscaping if you continue to cover up that area with landscaping. They have even marked it, "Do not cover", so you know that they'll be back.

Even if they do not currently have a valid easement (I suspect that this is not the case, and that you haven't looked in the right place), there are ways for them to obtain an easement - and it would cost you money to fight it.

Face the landscaping challenge with sanity: find a solution that camouflages the eyesore, but allows them easy access. Contact Comcast to verify that the solution you try will work before pouring in $ and time. Because right now, you are pissed off, and the workers who have to dig through your landscaping to get access are pissed off - no one is happy.

Maybe, if the boulder doesn't suit your style, a wooden wishing well or something of that nature would do. Accept that they'll be tromping in once in a while and scatter some pavers about.
 
Sponsored Ad

Top