Thursday, June 14, 2012
By Stephanie RabinerNeighbors can be the greatest people in the world, or they can be your worst enemies. But the reality is that most neighbors fall somewhere in between -- yes, even if you think you love them.
There are dozens of ways your neighbors can hurt you or your property value without ever letting it be known. That's not even including the usual ways, such as noise and failing to maintain their homes. Consider the following five examples.
1. Using your Wi-Fi. If you haven't put a password on your Internet, do it now. If your neighbor logs onto your network and downloads child porn or copyrighted content, you may be on the hook. The authorities (and record companies) will force you to spend a lot of money explaining that it wasn't you.
2. Stealing your land. Little known is the concept of adverse possession. If your neighbor plants bushes or erects a fence or driveway on your property, those few inches (or feet) will eventually become theirs. Be vigilant about property lines so your neighbors can't hurt you.
3. Fences. In some jurisdictions, both neighbors are responsible for the upkeep of shared fences. If your neighbor isn't fulfilling his duty, you may end up paying for half a replacement fence.
4. Bed bugs. This is one of the worst ways neighbors can hurt you. If you live in a condo, duplex or row house, they'll infest everything. And unfortunately, it's very hard to pinpoint their source, so everyone may end up being responsible for remediation.
5. Trees. When a branch hangs over into your yard, the tree is technically encroaching upon your property. You arguably have a right -- and duty -- to cut some branches so the tree isn't so side-heavy. If you don't, and they fall and cause damage, the injured party may try to hold you responsible. Ouch.
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