Welcome to the first of many installations in our newest series: Understanding and Executing Neighborhood Law. As a homeowner, you have been graced with the whole range of experiences that come with having neighbors! Although they can bring great joy through friendships, community events, and even play-dates, neighbors can also bring their own challenges, which are inevitable among individuals sharing such close quarters.
Having been inspired by a book released by attorneys Emily Doskow and Line Guillen, I want to share the ins and outs of neighborhood law with you. My hope is that you will enjoy close, friendly relationships with your neighbors for decades! But just in case, I’d also like to help you learn about your rights and make sure you are aware of how to take legal action, should that become necessary. I think we can all agree that the common goal among neighbors should be to learn how to reside peacefully and communicate when problems arise. But we also all know this isn’t the case for everyone, so it’s best to stay educated and be prepared.
In this extended series, we will outline some of the major and most common problems neighborhoods face, provide direction on how the law impacts your situation, and educate you on legal action available to you, as advised by Doskow and Guillen. We will also throw in some of our stories and anecdotes, sharing insight on how people respond to neighborhood conflict differently.
Why It’s Important to Know Your Rights
You may be asking WHY it is important to understand your rights – Maybe you haven’t had any issues with your neighbors, or maybe you already have a plan to use a mediator. However, the reality is, most homeowners have more rights than they are even aware of. In order to protect the equity in your home and preserve your position in the case that you may one day want to sell, understanding your rights is essential.
It is also important to be aware of the fact that time matters in most cases regarding conflicts in a neighborhood. A problem ignored can often become a larger problem in the future. One of the most well-known examples is the concept of squatter’s rights. California law allows a squatter to claim possession of a home if they can establish residency for five years. Squatters can actually take over the rights of the original homeowner! Now, this is a dramatic example – one that most readers are not likely to run into – but the moral of the story is that waiting to resolve a problem can have detrimental consequences. So, staying up to date on how to handle different community problems can help protect you and your family.
Lastly, knowing your rights makes you a responsible homeowner! Of course, that should be a top priority for all.
Now, let’s look at what you can expect in this upcoming series.
As you are probably aware, there are dozens of conflicts that may arise within your community. For those who live in housing associations, you likely enjoy a bit more direction on what to do under such circumstances. But for those of you outside these areas, this series promises to be valuable for you. Let’s take a brief look into what we will be reviewing in this extended series, Understanding, and Executing Neighborhood Law.
Before we dive into the details, we will begin our series by outlining how you can personally conduct legal research as a citizen of your country and a resident of your community. Next, we will introduce you to the process of mediation and small claims court – the most common methods used to resolve community issues. Following our initial introduction, we will get into the details.
By following our series, you can expect to learn the ins and out of community issues. We will focus on laws and resolutions related to trees, encroachment, view obstructions, boundary lines, trespassing and easements, fences, dangers to children, farming, water, zoning, and many more.
Our hope is to have you fully educated by the end of 2021 on how you can stand up for your neighborhood and peacefully and legally resolve all neighborhood conflicts.
If at any point you have questions or would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to reach out. I can either provide you some insight or direct you to a qualified attorney. In fact, now that we have mentioned legal counsel, I would like to disclose that I am a practicing real estate Broker in California; I am not a legal professional. All information in our publications is for education purposes, but all readers should consult a practicing attorney for proper legal advice.
Thanks for joining me on this journey!