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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Neighbors Walk Across My Lawn

    My question involves an easement in the state of: Illinois

    I own property of the size of 150' x 50'

    My house is set back from the road approximately 25'

    My neighbors on each side of my house have decided that they would like to regularly walk across my front yard and have worn paths into the yard. I have asked them to stop, and they have responded rudely. I have asked police to help but have told me of public right of way which comes to about 2 feet in front of my house.

    Is there anything legally that I can do to solve this problem?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Neighbors Walk Across My Lawn

    I would research the public ROW. If there is one, then there is little you can do. If there isn't one, you need to call the police every time somebody trespasses.

    Can you install a fence or shrubs?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    El Dorado County, CA

    Default Re: Neighbors Walk Across My Lawn

    In most residential areas, if there is a public sidewalk, the public RW will more often than not be at the back of walk; that is the side farthest from the street. That's not always the case, but usually so. The best way to know for sure is to hire a surveyor to mark it for you.

    I have found that police, with so many other things that they typically have to watch for, do not like to deal with what they consider to be civil matters and will grasp at any reasons which have even a veneer of legitimacy to avoid getting involved. If the police in this case are correct, then there may be very little you can do. If they are not correct, then this is a trespass issue. In CA, trespass is found in the both the Civil Code and in the Penal Code. Police do not enforce the Civil Code, but do enforce the Penal Code. It is likely that it is found similarly in IL law, with trespass or certain types of trespass being an enforceable matter for the police.

    They would probably need to be shown clear indication of where the edge of the RW is to be convinced that it is a matter they need to attend to. The best, and perhaps only way to do that is to have surveyor's points in the ground and a surveyor's map in your hand.

    Ask the surveyor to show the location of the sidewalk or edge of road and the front of your house, with dimensions to the front property line (a.k.a. the Right of Way line). If you know how to read construction plans, you could check with the local road or building departments for the improvement plans for your street. They may show the road and sidewalk relative to the RW line. If you are not familiar with reading plans and/or are not familiar with researching such things through the local government, you are probably better off hiring the surveyor. Without knowing just what you're looking for, where to find it, or how to read it if you do find it, going after the plans yourself can be quite a frustrating experience.

    Given the minor nature of the offense (worn paths in yard and rude response from trespassers), and the fact that dealing with it takes time away from responding and attending to potentially more significant crimes, I don't blame the police for not wanting to deal with this, but if it is indeed trespass as defined in a code they are authorized to enforce, then they at least need to take your complaint and file a report.

    It may be more effective for you and more efficient for the police if you were to document the trespass by ascertaining the actual RW line (by hiring a surveyor), taking pictures of the results of the trespass, identifying the trespassors (you need to file the police complaint against someone), and if possible, have one or more pictures of them in the act of trespassing. Take all of this to your local police department and have someone there file the report. That way you will be dealing with someone whose primary responsibilities include filing reports, you are there as the report is being typed and can provide clarification as needed (as opposed to a field officer later typing a report based upon his few notes and memory of what you said hours or days earlier), it will possibly be filed as you are still sitting there, and it frees up field officers to potentially respond to matters needing the immediate attention of a law enforcement officer.

    As for the possibility of installing a fence, hedge, or other barrier, check local zoning ordinances and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions for your subdivision if you live in one. Also, if you live in a designated historic area, there may be additional applicable conditions associated with that. The rules from those various sources will tell you what kind of barrier, if any you may put up in or around your front yard. I mention the historic area because the midwest neighborhood I grew up in was designated a historic area while my family lived there. The rules that came with that regarding new structures, fences, etc. were quite restrictive in terms of placement, size, and materials. Very much like CC&Rs in many newer subdivisions.

    Good luck.

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