Saturday, August 21, 2010

Grown Up Bullies

I hate bullies. I was bullied as a kid in Elementary School. Bullies are barely a step above criminals. Liars, cheats and thieves are usually also bullies. The hope is that bullies grow up and learn to be respectable members of society as adults. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

We bought our house and we wanted a property survey, but the job said they would not reimburse the cost if it was not required by the mortgage company. So, we did not get a survey. Soon after we moved in, our new next door neighbor (read: Mr. Know-it-all) informed us that we were not maintaining all of our property and we'd better do so. The property he indicated was in the rear corner and from what we were told by the previous owner, had not been clearly indicated as part of ours. So, we ordered up a survey at our own expense. Lo and behold we discovered that, yes, that was indeed our property. More interesting was  that we discovered that the neighbor at the rear corner had built his retaining wall on our property. A later discussion with Mr. Know-it-all revealed that the corner neighbor had leveled his lot when he decided  to add an in-ground pool in his yard. The result was a large berm placed on the complete length of Mr. Know-it-all's rear property line and on the entire rear corner of our lot.

Having only lived in our house for a few months, we were not looking to get into a pissing match with the new neighbors. Who wants that when you are new to the state AND the neighborhood? Not us! We were already having trouble being tolerated as outsiders, and had no desire to make it worse. Corner guy, (henceforth known as The Bully) approached us one afternoon after he noted the property stakes indicated his property had encroached onto ours. We decided, based on the conversation with him, that we would not immediately require the removal of the wall and hill from our property -- immediately. You see, he told us he was sorry that it happened and that he had NO IDEA that the contractor had gone over the property line, both with the berm from his pool install/lot leveling AND the wall. He said he would even maintain the steep hill created by the berm which was difficult to mow. He said he and his wife had no plans to move anytime soon, as they had kids and were firmly entrenched in the area.

Call us suckers. Call us naive. Call us stupid. Call us good neighbors trying to do the right thing in an awkward situation. We left it that as long as the wall remained in good condition, the area was maintained and we all owned our homes, we would allow the wall to remain. However, we stipulated quite clearly that if any of us decided to sell, then we would have to address the matter legally. This would ensure it was not going to cause problems for sale(s) to be completed and/or become a headache for future homeowners. On a handshake and a thank you to us for being reasonable, we left it at that. However, we contacted the city and county land offices to notate on our properties that there was an encroachment, just as a buffer against problems in the future.

Over the past 3 years, we have watched neighboring children running along the wall and jumping and playing on and near it as well. We were concerned for their safety and for our liability. So we discussed the problem with the parents of the kids, and were assured they would tell their kids to keep off the wall and stay on their own property to play. Imagine our surprise when this was not something the guilty kids cared to stop doing. (HAHA! We were not surprised, as the kids in question do not do anything their parents or anyone else tells then to do!)

April of this year brought us a BIG SHOCK! We discovered that The Bully had listed his house for sale! He NEVER contacted us to let us know and never asked how we should resolve the matter. Needless to say we were a little aggravated by this, because, as you and I know, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to ready your home for sale. So we contacted our attorney and it was determined that, in the interest of expediency, we should send a letter to The Bully and inform him that the offending wall needed to be removed post haste. Well, holy crapoly did that ever get him in a pissy mood! He stormed over to our back yard where we were hanging out with our kids and he immediately began lecturing us in a manner that was just this side of yelling but was obnoxious enough to be considered verbal abuse. We were informed that we were not neighborly, because we did not go knock on his door and discuss it with him before we lawyered up. All this was done in front of my kids who were utterly amazed at this raving maniac in our back yard! Naturally we reminded him of our previous agreement and that he had not followed through with his end by telling us he was selling so we could address the wall beforehand. His response? "Why would I? It's not an eyesore." (Well, that is just laughable. Eyesore or not that fuckin' damned wall does not belong on my property whatsoever!) He said he would get rid of it right away and stormed off.

About an hour later we had a friend stop by and we were out front talking and The Bully's wife comes walking up to us and in front of our company attempts to begin a dialog with us about the chance of buying the land under the wall from us. Then she started whining about the whole thing and again brought up that it was not an eyesore. We told her that was a matter of opinion, BUT we would discuss possible sale with our attorney. She then tried to deny that we ever had an agreement with her husband about the state of thing following the encroachment discovery. Well that just pissed me off! First of all we DID, second of all she was NOT THERE at the time, and lastly she could not speak with respect to a conversation that she had not been present and party too -- and I told her as much. Then I pointed out the very obvious fact that we had visitors and really this was not the time and place for her to interrupt our company -- uninvited.

Our attorney heard from The Bully who agreed to remove the wall. Then he started delaying for this that and the other reason. None of which were ever very clear to us. The key thing that we asked out of all this was that the new wall be COMPLETELY self supporting, as in it COULD NOT rely on our property to hold it up. Because of that and the simple fact that he, Mr. Know-it-all and now another neighbor all said the berm was there because of his pool and property leveling, we requested that he please remove the berm from our property as well. He went nutty at this saying he was not going to take it out. Then suddenly he decided that he had not put the berm there AND then he got Mr. Know-it-all to say the same. After all they had been neighbors for a long time, so these old timers are going to stick together. Gotta love ASSHOLES!

Around 6 weeks after our attorney's letter, The Bully decided to hire his own attorney, which he should have done RIGHT AWAY! Now this has gone out of control! We agreed to remove the berm ourselves IF The Bully would make his wall high enough to accommodate the new grade that we were lowering the berm to. After some wrangling he agreed to that. Aside from that, we felt it appropriate to ask him to reimburse our now $2000 legal bills because he could have done this at the beginning and we would have only been out the $500 deposit. Well after quite a lot of negotiating it was agreed he would repay us $1000 and make the wall self-supporting as previously agreed.

Wouldn't you think this was over now? OH HELL NO! His attorney used language that removed his clients agreement to make the wall reach the new grade. Now we have had 2 weeks of his attorney and our attorney arguing semantics, because his attorney is only interested in protecting his client whereas we and our attorney want to protect Us, The Bully, Mr. Know-it-all AND the other affected neighbor from this issue EVER being a PROBLEM in any way shape or form -- again. As it stands, the way things are going, we have already incurred another almost $1000 in fucking legal fees and we believe that The Bully is attempting to run us through all the money he agreed to pay back and he will likely NEVER sign anything agreeable.

The most interesting thing is that we have several witnesses who can attest to the fact that he built the berm and that he is lying. We even have the developer on our side, whom The Bully tried to blame for the berm at one point! Yet, our attorney seems to feel now that she does not need to put in the effort anymore. Can you imagine? Our attorney who has told us time and again that we have the truth and the witnesses to prove our case is not behaving like an attorney on our side. Now she seems to not care at all what the outcome is.  She has earned almost $3000 and we HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT! That, ladies and gents, is a fucking smack in the face. No one wants to go to court, but it seems that the only person who matters anymore is The Bully who is the fucking asshole that started this whole thing by illegally trespassing on our property with his dirt and wall! At what point does the reality of the fact that he has caused this and has changed his mind and changed his plans repeatedly make a difference to ANYONE? There is no reason for this except to cause us unnecessary financial hardships. Instead of doing the right thing from the get-go.

We have a kid starting college. Every penny in this household already has a qualification for something. The wasted dollars on this is potentially enough to send us over the edge and cause serious hardship. What kind of a motivator does  this guy need to get the job done and do it right? After all, he cannot even sell his house until the work is done. Supposedly he has a contract on his house, but if he really did, he would be racing to make this right...

This situation FINALLY resolved on August 10 AND we had to fork over another $2000 for a NEW wall on our property to keep the Bully's land from washing out our land. SO, $5000 and countless headaches later we can finally say we are free of the smug son of a bitch ! His house sold on the 16th and he is GONE! Let's just hope he hasn't poisoned the new owner against us... That would be a shame, cuz we gotta live near these people for however long -- ya know?

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