Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bound by Boundaries

Om, mine, padme hum........... om Shanti!
Give me Peace and Good will, and patience!
So what do you do when you have been living in your home for about 6 years and then Bam!  One day,  out of the blue, your once-friendly neighbour informs you that you have some land belonging to him?  When you ask for clarification, he points over the low-slung wire boundary fence, to about half a meter in and says that there once were boundary pegs there and you are accused of having moved them.

Well, you wonder how much dope he's been smoking, and laugh it off as you walk away shaking your head from side to side.

Am I  going crazy, or what??
One and a half years later, he is still going on about the boundary pegs, so with frustration, you might say, well, when we moved in here, this fence was already here..... if there was a boundary issue, the previous owner and land agent must have forgotten to mention it.  And IF there were boundary pegs here, you would wonder what the hell they were for and probably would have pulled them out.  But you don't remember, because this was never an issue you were aware of before.

Then your neighbour starts to accuse you of definitely having moved the boundary pegs - because you have just admitted it - "you said, if you had found pegs there, you would have moved them".  And in that event, he says, he will be reporting you to the city council, who will be coming to fine you as this is an offense.  He pins big aerial maps of his house onto the fence, with great big angry red arrows to indicate where the boundary is.  Now in your defence, you've tried several times to talk this over, and showed him the surveyor map you'd kept as a record.  He does not want to even look.  Somehow, his map is the proper one, even though it seems to indicate the very same fence-line as the boundary.  In his head, there is another imaginary boundary and it is within your piece of land!  The nicer you are to him and the more you try to reason with him, the more angry he becomes.  He thinks you are being nice to simply annoy him.
Neighbours boundary map pinned to your fence
So all this becomes rather nasty and at every opportunity, he aggrieves himself of the issue - and others come along too.  He starts to complain that you have chickens - and as you feed the chickens, it encourages house sparrows to come and eat the chicken food.  The sparrow then fly up onto his outside verandah and poop on the chairs and floor.  It is the fault of the chickens you keep.  So humbly, you apologize for the sparrow poop and you appease him by agreeing to move the chicken tractor to some distance away from the common boundary.  You also demolish half of the lean-to shed which was built before you bought the land, which comes right up to the fence-line, so when the Council does come to fine you, and show you how much land you have to return to the neighbour, then the land is ready to hand over.

Then one fine day, he growls viciously at you , clenching his fists, face the colour of beetroot.  Why, he asks, have you not stuck to "the agreement".  Which agreement you ask wearily.  The one which involves the hedge you've agreed to cut.  Oh, which hedge, you ask in puzzlement, as you are not aware of owning a hedge.  He thinks you are toying with him and so he fumes and one can almost see the steam exude from his ears as he tries to keep his lid from blowing and indicates with his head in the direction of the hebes.  Oh, you mean the hebe bushes (well, now I see that they have grown close together in some semblance of a "hedge" but I never really thought of them as a hedge before this point was made!!) You say you don't recall any agreement.  What exactly is the problem?  It is not illegal to grow a hedge, is it?

Still fighting to stay in control, he speaks dangerously low and says we need to maintain it.  So later, after he has moved indoors,  you peek over your fence to view the unruly hebe shenanigans on his side and have a laugh to yourself.  If the hebes poke 10cm over onto his side, it's a lot.  I am flummoxed by this conundrum. His apple and plum tree all lean about 1 1/2 m over the fence onto our side!!  So where's the fairness in that, you wonder?

Your spouse wants to sort it out - you stubbornly say - let the neighbour - it's HIS problem, let HIM find the solution!  Anyhow, the neighbour keeps on saying that you'll be fined, that the council are coming to fine you (never have, even though you waited patiently for them for a year and a half) and that it would likely cost the neighbour $500 to call in a surveyor (which he never did).
Leaning over into neighbour's zone, this is how much the
 hedge on the left is encroaching on his side!

This is the neighbour's tree on the right hanging over
our side - I never would have thought it a problem!
A green screen provides privacy and I welcome that!
Enough, says your spouse!  I can't take this stress anymore!  The guy is clearly crazy.  We will get a surveyor in and hand over any land rightfully belonging to him!  You try to reason, no, why should we.  It's his problem, let him solve it.  He's been talking about getting a surveyor for ages.  But your spouse waits no longer and arranges for one to come, making sure the neighbour is present.  After 2 hours (and an ensuing bill of $350), the surveyor declares that the fence is exactly on the boundary.  The mullet-guy neighbour mumbles something about having to accept that as correct then.  He says he was under the impression that there were some pegs on our land and he assumed they were the correct boundary, even though he allowed the previous fence to be erected where it currently stands!  And as for an apology - well, don't hold your breath!  This guy will never have the strength of character to apologize for all the stress he has caused you.
The fence!  De-fence!
But then you have just a small trick up your own sleeve - you send him a letter stating that he is eligible for half the survey cost (but again, don't hold your breath) seeing as he was willing to pay $500 for one and you have graciously shared in the cost, and if he would like to pay something toward the erection of a 1.8m fence, he is welcome, and if not, the fence will be going up anyways!  That way, he will never have to see your ugly face ever again!
A serious looking spouse standing next to a 1.8m
boundary fence for measuring against the hebes.

The hebe "hedge" which stands roughly at 1.8m

Hmmm.  You sent the letter went off a few days ago, registered mail.  Can you imagine the colour of his face with all the poppy-out veins of neighbourly love!  It is good to have tried so hard to maintain good neighourly vibes........... just does not work when there is a common boundary sometimes!  Especially one that does not provide with absolute privacy!

Neighbour's trees overhanging the common boundary

What hope for Palestine???  Or World Peace, for that matter?

Post Script Update:
Our letter informing our neighbour of our intent to erect a fence was met with total silence.  Not a word.  In fact, he kept such a low profile for 5 weeks, that we never saw or heard him at all, at all!  I think 'tis coz he might have feared being asked to contribute his part.  Nothing to date of any payment at all.  I had hoped he might have some mana (Maori for respect/ self worth/ gift - hard to translate).  So the fence went up - it looks fab and gives that extra sense of security and safe haven.  Blessed be those with high fences to keep their mad neighbours at bay!

3 zinc-alume panels break the monotony of the wooden fence.
Methinks me might sow some wildflower seeds along the fence to soften the lines now...
PostScript 3.01.14
No money received to date, toward costs of solving neighbour's boundary problem.

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