Do you have a neighbor that simply insists on mowing your lawn all the time? While it may seem like a kind gesture, they may have ulterior motives to make your land their own. Can your neighbor actually claim your land by mowing it though?
It is highly unlikely that your neighbor can claim your land simply by mowing your lawn. They would need to claim adverse possession of the property and prove several factors to contribute to their claim. This is virtually impossible with a typical neighbor-based relationship.
Adverse possession of land is a weird and interesting law. While your neighbor may feel they have a shot at your land, we’re going to dive deep into the topic so that you’ll know exactly how to handle this type of situation.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
If your neighbor doesn’t take the hint, here are a couple things you can get to help drive the point home:
1. No Mowing Beyond This Point Sign – This is the perfect way to still keep it civil, but let your neighbors know you’re serious about them not mowing your lawn.
2. Metal Garden Fence – Block their access to your yard by setting up a metal garden fence where they like to mow.
How a Neighbor Can Claim Your Land
We are going to look into the ways a neighbor can claim your land but mainly we will be discussing how crazy it is for your neighbor to think they can claim your land.
It is not easy and is a bit of a pipe dream.
Can My Neighbor Claim My Land?
Your neighbor only has the right to claim your land if you have neglected it and they have been maintaining it for at least ten years. However, it is not as easy as it sounds and there are other factors involved.
If you are dealing with your neighbor trying to claim your land by mowing it, the odds are not really in their favor.
In order to claim your land, your neighbor has to prove that they did not have your consent to use the part of the land they are trying to claim, among many other things.
It is highly unlikely that your neighbor is using a piece of your land without your consent, whether that’s in writing or just in good faith that your neighbor isn’t going to do anything with your land, like try to claim it as their own.
Can My Neighbor Claim My Land if I Don’t Look After It?
Your neighbor can’t necessarily claim your land if you don’t look after it. Certainly, your neighbor can claim your land if you are not speaking of the land you live on and instead on some abandoned land in the country that you have neglected.
But, if they are trying to claim the land you live on, even if you don’t look after it, it’s not going to be easy for them since your neighbor clearly knows that land belongs to you.
They are actually just trespassing.
Additionally, they need to be able to prove that they were the only person using that land for at least ten years, which doesn’t seem possible since you live there and likely used your land at some point.
You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if Your Neighbor Keeps Cutting Your Grass
Can You Claim Land if You Look After It?
You are capable of claiming land that you look after in some areas of the United States. However, you have to be the only person using that land for at least ten years, on top of other factors.
A statute called adverse possession allows you to apply for a land claim if you have been the only one maintaining it for at least ten years straight, sometimes 12 years in some areas.
You also have to prove that you intended to possess the land during the time you were taking care of it.
How Long Do You Have to Use a Piece of Land Before You Can Claim It?
You have to be the only one using the piece of land for at least ten years, sometimes twelve, to have the grounds to apply to the Land Registry in hopes of claiming the land.
However, you can’t just claim land because you have used it. You need to be able to prove that you were the only person using it for ten years straight without any permission from the actual owner of the land.
Usually, this is only possible with abandoned land that is being neglected, not your neighbor mowing your lawn with your permission.
You might also enjoy our post on Can My Neighbor Paint My Fence?
Adverse Possession of Land
Adverse possession of land may be the reason why your neighbor thinks they can claim your lawn by mowing it. However, it is very likely your neighbor doesn’t know all the facts. So, let’s lay them out.
How Do You Legally Claim Land?
To legally claim land, you have to apply to the Land Registry in your area and claim something called adverse possession. This is the process of acquiring land that doesn’t necessarily belong to you.
To legally claim land, you have to prove that you have been the only person using it for at least ten years straight without any permission from the actual owner.
You also have to prove that you intended to claim the land during your whole time using the land.
What Is Adverse Possession of Land?
Adverse possession of land is the process of acquiring land that doesn’t necessarily belong to you if you are able to prove the unregistered or registered land has been solely in your hands for the entire duration.
Here are some important points to consider about obtaining adverse possession:
- You must have used the land for at least ten years
- You need to prove exclusive control over the land
- You need to prove that you had the intent to possess the land during your use
- You need to prove that you did not have consent of the owner of the land to use it
Can My Neighbor Claim Adverse Possession by Mowing My Lawn?
It is highly unlikely that your neighbor can claim adverse possession by mowing your lawn. They had to have been the only person mowing your lawn for at least ten years and have been in complete control of your lawn.
Meaning that if you never touched your lawn, by your own decision and not a physical handicap, for ten years straight, then your neighbor may have a greater chance of claiming adverse possession.
But, the tricky thing with neighbors is that your neighbor who is claiming adverse possession clearly knows the land belongs to you and most likely has your consent to mow the lawn.
Therefore, this makes them incapable of claiming adverse possession since they had your permission.
What’s an Example of Adverse Possession?
An example of adverse possession includes the continuous use of a private road that only you have maintained for at least ten years without the permission of the actual owner of the road.
To be able to claim adverse possession of the road, you need to prove the following:
- That you have been the only person taking care of the road for at least ten years. This can include filling in potholes or snow plowing it.
- That you did not have permission from the owner of the road to maintain it. This can be as simple as the owner of the road driving past you as you are snowplowing it, for example. The owner is aware and is clearly not objecting to the maintenance, so they are giving you permission.
- That you are the only person in control of the road. If someone else is maintaining the road as well, such as another neighbor, then you cannot claim adverse possession.
How Do You Prove Adverse Possession For a Neighbor’s Lawn?
Proving adverse possession for a neighbor’s lawn is very difficult unless the neighbor has completely abandoned their house and no longer lives there or if you are trying to claim a piece of their lawn that they didn’t know they owned.
However, if they don’t know they own that piece of land but you know they own it, you actually might get charged with trespassing when you try to claim adverse possession.
So, essentially, the only way you might be able to claim adverse possession for your neighbor’s lawn is if they have completely neglected their lawn and abandoned their house at the same time.
You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if Your Neighbor Steals Your Dog
What To Do If You Think Your Neighbor Is Trying to Claim Adverse Possession
Since claiming adverse possession is long in the making, you have plenty of time to stop your neighbor from their sneaky ways. Here’s what to do if you think your neighbor is trying to pull a fast one on you.
What Do I Do if My Neighbor Insists to Mow My Lawn?
You should definitely consider your neighbor who always insists on mowing your lawn as a big red flag. Although it will be virtually impossible for them to claim an adverse possession for your lawn, they may certainly have it in mind.
The fact that they insist on mowing your lawn already cancels them out for an adverse possession claim. If they insist on mowing your lawn, that means you are giving them permission to.
If they have permission to mow your lawn, that immediately cancels the claim.
Regardless, it’s clear that your neighbor doesn’t have your best intentions in mind and you should keep a close eye on them.
Can a Neighbor Enter My Lawn Without Permission?
If your neighbor comes onto your lawn without your permission, they are trespassing. A neighbor that tries to mow your lawn while you are not home may think that this is a way to claim adverse possession.
They may think this because to claim adverse possession of a lawn, the neighbor has to mow their neighbor’s lawn without their permission. However, this simply will not fly in court since:
- The neighbor is trespassing
- The neighbor is secretly taking care of the lawn- which cancels out an adverse possession claim immediately.
Can I Stop My Neighbor From Mowing My Lawn?
Although it may seem sweet that your neighbor is mowing your lawn, they may have other intentions. To stop your neighbor from mowing your lawn, you should first speak to them about it before considering legal action.
Have a friendly, neighborly conversation with your neighbor about the lawn mowing. Let them know that you appreciate the gesture but it is not necessary and you would prefer to mow the lawn yourself.
If they do not accept this conversation well, you can think about charging them with trespassing or even putting a restraining order on them. This type of neighbor seems dangerous anyways, and it may be for the best.
How Can I Legally Keep My Neighbor Off My Property?
To keep your neighbor off your property, you can put up “no trespassing” signs that clearly remind people that your property is yours and you will not tolerate anyone who trespasses.
You can also place fences and natural barriers around your property that show a distinct outline of your property line in case your neighbor is claiming they don’t know where your property begins and ends.
If you are going through this situation, you may find our article about dealing with trespassing neighbors helpful.
What to Do if a Neighbor Is Encroaching on Your Property?
If your neighbor is insisting part of your lawn is actually in their possession, they may be committing encroachment of your property. You should hire a land surveyor to prove that piece of lawn is actually yours.
If your neighbor is insisting that part of your lawn is actually theirs, it’s possible they are trying to encroach on your property to then claim it as their own down the road through adverse possessions.
Fooling you into thinking that piece of lawn is actually theirs is a sneaky tactic but sometimes effective.
If you believe that you are being fooled, you should hire a land surveyor to prove to your neighbor that the piece of lawn is indeed yours and they are trespassing when they decide to mow it.
How Do You Deal With Encroachment of a Neighbor?
When your neighbor insists on mowing your lawn, not only are they trespassing but they may also be encroaching. You should let your neighbor know as sternly as possible that you do not want them mowing your lawn anymore.
You need to make it very clear to them that mowing your lawn is not something that you want. If they do not listen to you, then it’s possible you can charge them for trespassing and encroachment.
File a complaint to your local municipality about your neighbor’s behavior.
The municipality may send law enforcement to speak to your neighbor and inform them that what they are doing is illegal and can involve consequences.
You might also enjoy our post on What to Do When Your Neighbor Hits Your Parked Car
Is Encroachment a Crime?
Encroachment is considered a crime in all states of the United States of America. Encroachment is defined as the act of intrusion into someone’s property. Your neighbor may plant something on your side of the property and demand to take care of it.
This can have them believe that if they plant something on your side of the property, such as a tree or a small garden, and they take care of that plant for ten years straight then they will have grounds to claim adverse possession of that part of the land.
This is a very sneaky method that likely won’t hold up in court, but there is a small chance. However, until then, your neighbor is only encroaching on your property and you can have them charged.
How Do I Complain About Encroachment?
To complain about encroachment, you can file a complaint to your local municipality or to your local police station. The police will likely send someone to speak to your neighbor to let them know what they are doing is illegal.
You can also complain to your HOA if you have one if you do not want to involve the police yet. This will let your neighbor off a little easier which is important to maintain your neighborly relationship.
How You Can Stop an Advese Possession Claim
Now that you know how bizarre it is for your neighbor to think they can claim your lawn by mowing it, let’s discuss how we can go about stopping this claim while trying to maintain what is left of your neighborly relationship.
How Do I Stop Adverse Possession if My Neighbor is Trying to Claim It?
If your neighbor is trying to claim adverse possession for your lawn, you may need to hire a lawyer of your own because there’s a good chance you can charge your neighbor with trespassing.
When your neighbor attempts an adverse possession of your entire lawn or a piece of your lawn, odds are not in their favor and their claim will likely be denied.
If you want, you can hire yourself a lawyer and try to charge and or sue your neighbor with trespassing which is essentially what they have been doing during their attempt to claim your land.
Can Adverse Possession Be Challenged?
Adverse possession can be challenged. If someone is trying to claim your land through adverse possession you should hire a lawyer and take the person to small courts to fight for your land.
If your neighbor is specifically trying to claim your lawn, you have a great chance of winning if you challenge the claim and might even be able to charge them for trespassing.
Claiming your neighbor’s lawn is virtually impossible and quite ignorant.
You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if Your Neighbor is Throwing Trash in Your Yard
How Do You Beat Adverse Possession?
To beat an adverse possession claim against you from your neighbor, you simply have to prove that your neighbor was not the only person taking care of your lawn throughout the ten years.
Your neighbor is going to have a difficult time claiming adverse possession over your lawn, especially if the only thing going for them was that they mowed it.
You simply have to prove that you also took care of your lawn, this can be anything from laying down the actual grass to putting fertilizer on it.
How Do You Take Ownership of Abandoned Property?
To take ownership of abandoned property, you can attempt to claim adverse possession of the land. This is a lengthy process that takes at least ten years, sometimes twelve years depending on where you live.
To claim adverse possession of the abandoned land, you have to take care of it for ten years straight and be the only person taking care of it.
You cannot hide the fact that you are taking care of it and you cannot know who the owner of the land is. If you do, you are trespassing.
Once ten years have passed, you can claim adverse possession of the property through the Land’s Registry in your area.
How Can I Claim Adverse Possession?
To claim adverse possession, you have to follow the five elements of adverse possession and then prove that you followed these elements in your claim.
The five elements of adverse possession are:
- Continuous – You are the only person taking care of the land
- Hostile – You do not have permission to care for the land
- Open and notorious – You must be openly taking care of the land and secretly doing it
- Actual – You are in actual possession of someone else’s property
- Exclusive – You do not include anyone else in the control of the land
Thankfully, now you have all the facts on adverse possession and you can let your neighbor know that, well, nice try.
If you’re feeling nice enough, you won’t charge them with trespassing or encroachment and let them attempt to mend your neighborly relationship that is hanging by a blade of grass.