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  1. #1
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    Oct 2020
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    Default Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Florida (Tampa)

    We are a family with 3 young children (5, 8 and 10 yrs old). We purchased our family home 9 months ago and our property survey showed that the existing fence (not in good condition) belonged to us. We started a vegetable patch close to the fence and used a chicken wire cage (nailed to our fence) as support. However, our neighbors (old retired couple) contacted us and said that the fence is theirs and we should avoid touching it.

    We showed our survey (done it 2019) to them. Their survey was old and outdated. So, they got a new survey done which proved the fence was ours. Unfortunately, over the next few weeks they turned nasty - using filthy language, throwing trash over the fence to our side and a lot of other cheap behavior. We had to call the cops a few times as they had crossed the line in few instances. Although the cops warned them to refrain from engaging with us, they just seem to get worse.

    Recently, they contacted us and said they wanted to install a new fence. They claimed that two fence posts at the back end of our fence were over the property line as per their survey and we should move them. Our survey did not agree with that. However, as our fence was in bad shape anyway, we removed it totally and their new white PVC fence was installed very close to the property line.

    1) The veg patch is completely within our property (about 6 inches from the property line). It is NOT in violation of any HOA or county regulations.
    2) The chicken wire cage is about 5 ft tall and is not visible to our neighbors from the other side of the fence

    Now, our neighbors are demanding that we should remove the vegetable patch completely as i) the chicken wire may scratch their fence. ii) the leaves and watering of plants might discolor and damage their white fence. They claim that we will be liable for discoloration or scratches on the fence.

    Also, today the husband stood on a step ladder, ... bent over the fence to our side and started pulling the plants whose leaves were touching their fence. He also kept pushing the chicken wire cage away, which almost broke it. I asked him to refrain from damaging our property. He reacted loudly with filthy abuse. I did not engage further as my kids were home and in online schooling. So my questions are

    1) Are we allowed to have grow plants close to the fence?
    2) Are we liable for damages if the fence develops discoloration due to the leaves etc?
    3) Can the neighbor damage our plants and the chicken cage because he assumes that his fence will be affected by our plants and cage?
    4) Is he "Trespassing" by reaching our property from over the fence?

    Any suggestions would be greatly helpful. Thank you in advance

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    You could always move your garden.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    The answer to all of your questions is that your obnoxious neighbor likely has more fortitude for being obnoxious than you have for tolerating it. Thus, even if you're legally right, this isn't a fight you're likely to win. Do what you can to avoid conflict.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    Quote Quoting sinspider
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    1) Are we allowed to have grow plants close to the fence?
    2) Are we liable for damages if the fence develops discoloration due to the leaves etc?
    3) Can the neighbor damage our plants and the chicken cage because he assumes that his fence will be affected by our plants and cage?
    4) Is he "Trespassing" by reaching our property from over the fence?

    Any suggestions would be greatly helpful. Thank you in advance
    OK, so your neighbor can damage your property but says you can't damage his by planting a garden on your property?

    You are allowed to plant anything you like on your own property whether or not it damages his fence (as long as you don't intentionally damage the fence with nails or screws or attach anything to it or destroy the integrity of it). Your side of the fence faces your property not his.

    I would say you are not liable if the fence is discolored due to nature. If he was so concerned about discoloration he should have installed his fence a foot or more onto his property.

    He cannot damage your property period. It is both a trespass and vandalism.

    What I would suggest is that you not engage these people due to any one incident. Instead, install a surveillance camera that captures what happens on the fence-line. Then if he continues to do what he is doing you apply for a restraining order and take it to court. If you have the evidence of his harassment, trespass, and vandalism, and you get a restraining order and he does it again, he may go to jail. Let him think about that.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    ...or the OP could move the garden a few feet and then not even have to think about this matter again. The OP has 3 young children...why would they want to inflame the situation and make life even harder? They shouldn't be focused on a feud with the neighbors.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    To more specifically answer your questions:

    1) if (as you wrote) there is no local regulation or HOA requirement prohibiting planting a garden near a neighbor's fence, then, yes, you are allowed to do it.

    2) your neighbor would probably have a difficult argument claiming damages for discoloration insofar as that is the sort of thing that will happen to white fences generally without any wrongdoing by anyone else. This is particularly true where your actions (placing the garden near the fence) were probably lawful (see answer to Q1), and it is not likely that you undertook those actions with any intent that the result would be discoloration of the neighbor's fence. When a matter goes to court, it is always possible to get a screwy result, but it seems unlikely that a court would find you legally responsible for discoloration of the fence in these circumstances.

    3) No, your neighbor would not have any legal right to damage your plants or your chicken cage even if the neighbor honestly believed the plants or the cage (or both) might end up adversely affecting his fence. His lawful option in those circumstances is to wait until the damage actually occurs and then bring appropriate legal action against you to recover for his losses and, perhaps, require you to relocate the garden. Whether he would win such a case is unclear (see answer to Q2).

    Also -- if the neighbor did pre-emptively damage your property, you would have a civil claim against him to recover the value of the loss. The neighbor's action probably would also constitute a criminal offense, although under the circumstances the police may choose to not get involved. Still, calling them again should it happen again might help send your neighbor a useful message even if the cops decide to only issue a warning (as opposed to, say, arresting the guy or issuing a citation).

    4) "Is he 'trespassing' by reaching our property from over the fence?" Possibly. The relevant Florida statutes are found in Title 46 (Crimes), section 810 (Burglary and Trespass). You'd particularly want to look at sections 810.08 and 810.09, and the definitions in section 810.011, and any published Florida court cases interpreting and applying those statutes.
    The text of the statutes can be accessed from (among several other places), here:

    www DOT flsenate DOT gov/Laws/Statutes/2019/Chapter810

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    Quote Quoting sinspider
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    Any suggestions would be greatly helpful.
    Move the garden a few feet away from the fence.

    You aren't going to win against lunatic neighbors. It'll just keep getting worse.

    I agree that you should put up security cameras. But keep them well hidden.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    Quote Quoting Zigner
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    ...or the OP could move the garden a few feet and then not even have to think about this matter again. The OP has 3 young children...why would they want to inflame the situation and make life even harder? They shouldn't be focused on a feud with the neighbors.
    The problem with this advise is that OP should not be intimidated by some lunatic neighbor. It is their property and should be able to do with it as they please. For over 3000 years the doctrine of protect your property rights or lose them is a foundation in our legal system. You don't just give up your right to avoid conflict.

    And what does the 3 children have to do with this?

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    You aren't going to win against lunatic neighbors. It'll just keep getting worse.
    From what I know of you for many years, I doubt you would acquiesce.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    The problem with this advise is that OP should not be intimidated by some lunatic neighbor. It is their property and should be able to do with it as they please. For over 3000 years the doctrine of protect your property rights or lose them is a foundation in our legal system. You don't just give up your right to avoid conflict.
    It's a concept known as choosing one's battles. The OP can choose to live a life full of conflict, or a life of harmonious existence. There are much more important things to worry about in life, such as one's own well-being (physical, mental, and emotional), as well as that of one's family. Heck, the OP might even make new friends in the process


    EDIT: To be clear, I don't disagree with you from a legal standpoint. The OP is not in the wrong here in that regard.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Growing Plants Close to Neighbors Fence

    Quote Quoting Zigner
    View Post
    It's a concept known as choosing one's battles. The OP can choose to live a life full of conflict, or a life of harmonious existence. There are much more important things to worry about in life, such as one's own well-being (physical, mental, and emotional), as well as that of one's family. Heck, the OP might even make new friends in the process


    EDIT: To be clear, I don't disagree with you from a legal standpoint. The OP is not in the wrong here in that regard.
    However, it is equally possible that your advice could just make the neighbor more demanding. The theory is if you let someone take and inch, they will take a mile. This family has children. Children make noise. They will start complaining about the children next.

    It is also a heck of a lot of hard physical work to put a garden in, in the first place, and a lot of hard physical work to move it. I wouldn't do it myself.

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