Upside down justice

January 26, 2022

I’ve lived in my home for 22 years and have had 5 neighbors to the right side of my townhouse, some nicer than others. This current one can only be described as a witch. She’s truly a bully taking great pride in being selfish and demanding of her property rights over plants and trees but totally disrespectful when it comes to my rights. Here’s my story of what should have been a shared expense and how she reneged on her promise to actually pay me once repairs were complete.

Before I start my rant, because admittedly, I’m frustrated at the system that allows people in a neighborhood where the deed of the property clearly states a shared financial responsibility where a shared wall is involved, there are probably some of you that may disagree with my position. Since I believe that perspective is a fact in this world of duality, I accept that opposition to what I’m presenting is a possibility. Nonetheless, I’m going to present what happened in the hopes that eventually there is enough energy to move forward in a more positive way.

Over these many years, my house has needed quite a few maintenance repairs, of which very few involved my neighbors. That said, the walls between the homes to shift due to the settling of the houses. When this happens, the two walls essentially separate which causes a “crack” in the mortar. Although initially one can ignore the esthetically normal small crack, when it becomes a matter of a full length of the house crack then it’s a “structural situation”. At this point, it’s prudent to listen to the knowledgeable contractors that were repairing other parts of my home. “Hey lady, it’s time to fix this crack or you and your neighbor could have water damage”. When I hear this kind of statement, I listen. Having just spend a lot of money to repair first the siding a few months before and then the roof, now I realized I’d have to repair both side seams of my townhouse.

The neighbors on one side of my house had just moved in and were very nice people. During my investigation process and eventually completing the repair, they cooperated with me and paid their share (half of one side of the house or ¼ of the total cost). The other neighbor decided to make it as difficult as possible for me to get paid. As I was travelling out of the state to care for my mother, due to a family death, I was coming home to do these repairs. I was literally coming home for a few weeks and either getting bids or having work done and then going back to care for my Mom. It was and continues to be a stressful time. I just didn’t have lots of time to discuss the whys and wherefores of what I considered to be yet another home maintenance repair. After 22 years these repairs are to be expected.

Although this neighbor initially agreed to pay half of the expected repair, over email and through the President of the HOA to make it official, she later recounted her agreement. But she did this only after she got what she wanted from me – for me to trim a tree in my backyard that was growing into her “air” space. Let me re-iterate – it wasn’t touching any where in her backyard – just reaching into her “air” over a few feet over the property line. And for this transgression on my part, she wrote me a letter instructing me that I had to trim the tree by a certain date or her gardener couldn’t work at all on her backyard. I had a hard time not laughing since my tree was located in the corner of my backyard and was way over to the corner of her backyard. To say that her gardener was paralyzed from working until this beautiful cut leaf maple was trimmed was truly delusional. In 22 years, no other neighbor had bothered me about this gorgeous tree. Because the letter of the law states that I had to trim the tree, I did so and bam, once it was done her tone totally changed. Before that it was “what’s your PayPal so I can send you the money I owe you”. Once I had trimmed my tree, she came up with every crazy excuse in the books. Why did you do a mortar repair instead of caulking? Why? Because caulking isn’t for a structural situation where the entire side of the house is involved. The contractor I used was a licensed, bonded and insured real company that had reviews from doing this type of work, not a guy with a no-name truck like what she used to do her gardening work.

Needless to say, things went from bad to worse. I said she could pay me now or later. She sent $175 when her share was $700. I promptly refused the money she had sent and returned with an invoice for the full amount. She didn’t pay it. So, I tried through the small claims court system which was of little help. Again, she played a game until she got the ending she wanted. I went to court on the appointed day and she was a no-show. The judge called the case and shocked me with the news that she’d scheduled oral surgery that day. She lied and said she sent me a notice. I received nothing in the mail, in an email, nor on my door. It was a total lie. She just let me go to court, even though I had checked in the day before, the administrators didn’t know that there was a note on the file. The case was continued into the winter and of course it was on a day of bitter temperatures and icy road conditions. The federal and local governments were both closed but the courts decided to stay open. As I’d just had an accident earlier in that same week when my car slipped off the road during icy conditions, I couldn’t drive again and take any more chances (it was a huge repair bill). I called the court and was led to believe that it would be ok. But it wasn’t. Although the judge let her make up a story and play games with the date, he wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t drive (she has an SUV) so the case was dismissed not on merit but because I wasn’t there. I’m more than furious. But because I know that there is karma, I know that eventually she will pay her due. Comments are always welcome. But be gentle in this case…


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