Neighbor clear cut my trees

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by 45_Fan, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. 45_Fan

    45_Fan Well-Known Member

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    I have a vacant lot that I maintain (mow, spray weeds, rake leaves, remove litter, etc.) and inspect about once a week. Today the canopy looked different. It looks like in the past week a neighbor has embarked on a back yard expansion project and has felled at least 150 trunk inches of trees on my property complete with machinery tracks.

    What is the appropriate way to halt the neighbor’s overreach?
    What are my responsibilities to avoid any sort of adverse possession claims down the road?

    In some senses I’m greatly annoyed at the loss of some 50-75 year oaks but in other senses the loss of some pines and gum trees probably saved me time and money anyway. The machinery tracks are what has my hackles up because this isn’t a situation where somebody lacked a moment of clarity with a chainsaw and accidentally cleared some 4” trees 3 feet on the wrong side of a property line. This is a situation where someone retained services to bring in heavy equipment and was more than 30’ inside the lines in a neighborhood where the lots run 0.10 to 1.2 acres in size. Flagged survey pins are quite visible so there is no doubt as to the location of the property line.
     
  2. RedDawnTheMusical

    RedDawnTheMusical Well-Known Member

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    Well, it sounds like you either need to talk to the neighbor or a lawyer (or both). I've seen this several times and each time the person that had the trees cut always claimed ignorance, but I suspect that all of them knew exactly what they were doing, they just figured that they would get away with it or, if caught, just claim ignorance.
     

  3. zetor

    zetor Gaston beat up John

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    I'd speak to him directly. If there was a dispute, I'd get survey docs from the courthouse. Adverse possession has a time requirement so unless you let it ride for a long time while he grows a garden or whatever on your property, it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  4. a_springfield

    a_springfield Well-Known Member

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    Run a single barbed wire fence down the line.
     
    Phil1979 likes this.
  5. UtiPossidetis

    UtiPossidetis American

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    All good advice, but don't forget they lawyer. Advice before the fact can help - after the fact can be too late.
     
  6. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Take plenty of photos and video, and if you can have someone watch the place for further activity by the neighbor.

    Catch him in the act and film him.
     
  7. a_springfield

    a_springfield Well-Known Member

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    Get measurements on size of stump and type of each tree you should be able to seek damages for the lost value of the trees. Even the pines have a value.
     
    Match10 likes this.
  8. gsusnake

    gsusnake Token Liberal Hippie

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  9. GoDores

    GoDores Like a Boss

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    I'm a fan of trying to resolve neighborly differences by talking directly to the neighbor rather than involving the legal system, but in this case you may want to consult with a local attorney who does land use work.

    If the tree removal harmed the property value or the wood itself had value, you'd want to find out your legal options to get compensated for the loss. If you think the neighbor plans future "work" on your property, you might also need to get some kind of court order enjoining him from doing so. But even if the removal didn't impact your property value or cost you anything, I'm assuming your neighbor didn't do a survey and get a permit prior to removing your trees. Since it's your property you might be on the hook for the removal unless you can prove someone else did it without your permission. You may need to involve the city or county to cite your neighbor for the removal just to ensure you're not cited for it yourself later on.
     
  10. GAfirearmsReference

    GAfirearmsReference Weapons Law Booklet

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    You probably have a legal claim to sue over, but I don't know what your actual "damages" are (how much your land has been reduced in value, or what profit from your own harvesting of that timber has been denied to you by your neighbor getting it first).

    If you can prove this was an intentional tort on his part, not merely a mistake (and keep in mind it could be a mistake of the hired crew that came out to do the work, who misunderstood your neighbor's instructions about where to cut and where the boundary line was) then you can get punitive damages. Punitive damages could be several times more than what "actual" or compensatory damages are worth.

    QUOTE from old Georgia Court of Appeals case involving unauthorized cutting of trees:

    "In actions of trespass to realty, the fact that the trespass was willful is material only for the purpose of obtaining punitive damages, and the burden of proving the willfulness is on the plaintiff; but, where the plaintiff brings trover for the recovery of an article severed from the realty and converted by the defendant, he is entitled to recover the article or its full value as damages, even though it has been greatly improved at the expense of the defendant, unless the latter shows that the trespass was not willful so as to entitle him to a set-off..."

    Milltown Lumber Co v. Carter, 5 Ga.App. 344 ( Ga. App., 1908 )
     
  11. GAfirearmsReference

    GAfirearmsReference Weapons Law Booklet

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    I wouldn't worry about adverse possession just yet-- not unless this is just the start of a series of many actions over many years where your neighbor takes the land and treats it like his own, openly and boldly, and YOU don't do any similar steps to treat the land like your own.
     
  12. AtlPhilip

    AtlPhilip Proud GCO member.

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    Continue the clearing. Drop (or drag) the trees on his property and leave them.