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Neighbors casually coming onto private property

 
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Hello, I am currently in the process of purchasing 3.911 acres in PA. At the inspection, a group of neighbors (to my surprise) came walking up the 80+ yard driveway and introduced themselves and said they come up all the time to see the waterfall and it's the only thing for them to do in that rural area. It wasn't put as a question, it was a direct statement, like this is what we do and why.
I hate to piss off my neighbors before I even move in so I mentioned that I have a large dog who will be roaming the property (hoping that would deter them from coming at their leisure) but they responded with they were getting a dog too. I said I would not want to see the dogs get into a fight since they don't know each other, but they again got around that by saying they wouldn't bring their dog. The conversation ended when I told them I had to get back to the inspector.
The way it was put, it was like they were letting me know that they were going to keep doing it. and because negotiations on the house are not final yet, I didn't want to address it right then because it's not my house, yet.
My fear is that these people are going to be mad that they can't make my property part of their walks anymore, and that the kids will give my 1st grader a hard time (they will be going to the same school and riding the same bus). There were two kids slightly older than my son and one who was slightly younger than my other son. I would like to have everyone over for play dates, it is an incredible piece of land that I want to let others enjoy, just on my terms since it is my home. The waterfall is right outside the house at the top of the driveway, so it is just too close for comfort to have people walking up with no notice.
Does anyone have any advice on how to make it clear I do not want people coming up without talking to me first, but still seem like a nice neighbor? I don't want to burn any bridges, but for privacy and liability reasons, they just can't keep coming whenever they want. Thank you!
 
pollinator
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Julieann Rae wrote:Hello, I am currently in the process of purchasing 3.911 acres in PA. At the inspection, a group of neighbors (to my surprise) came walking up the 80+ yard driveway and introduced themselves and said they come up all the time to see the waterfall and it's the only thing for them to do in that rural area. It wasn't put as a question, it was a direct statement, like this is what we do and why.
I hate to piss off my neighbors before I even move in so I mentioned that I have a large dog who will be roaming the property (hoping that would deter them from coming at their leisure) but they responded with they were getting a dog too. I said I would not want to see the dogs get into a fight since they don't know each other, but they again got around that by saying they wouldn't bring their dog. The conversation ended when I told them I had to get back to the inspector.
The way it was put, it was like they were letting me know that they were going to keep doing it. and because negotiations on the house are not final yet, I didn't want to address it right then because it's not my house, yet.
My fear is that these people are going to be mad that they can't make my property part of their walks anymore, and that the kids will give my 1st grader a hard time (they will be going to the same school and riding the same bus). There were two kids slightly older than my son and one who was slightly younger than my other son. I would like to have everyone over for play dates, it is an incredible piece of land that I want to let others enjoy, just on my terms since it is my home. The waterfall is right outside the house at the top of the driveway, so it is just too close for comfort to have people walking up with no notice.
Does anyone have any advice on how to make it clear I do not want people coming up without talking to me first, but still seem like a nice neighbor? I don't want to burn any bridges, but for privacy and liability reasons, they just can't keep coming whenever they want. Thank you!



In my experience, people like that don't take hints.  You will have to tell them flat-out that you don't want people on your property.  If you drop hints or hope they'll do the right thing, I think they will just play stupid.
 
pollinator
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Blame the insurance people. Everybody will buy it.

When you own the property, tell them your insurance guy freaked out when he heard people and kids were wandering onto a property with water (drowning hazard and liability), and told you to put up No Trespassing signs.

But you being a good neighbour didn't want to do that; you just need people to arrange times to come visit the waterfall.
 
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Be naturists?
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Seriously though, in this country if you live in a rural area it's not uncommon to have public footpaths across your land and sometimes very close to your house.  I guess people just get used to it.  Your visitors probably don't come "all the time" in reality, they are just trying to assert their custom.   I'd be friendly.  If they turn out to be nice people and you make friends, you won't mind them dropping by and they will be courteous about it.  If it turns out you don't have much in common you can probably find subtle ways to discourage them or at least find a boundary that they don't cross - maybe make a path up the other side of the stream?
 
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My mind went straight to the legal aspect of this. Having one of their kids drown in the pond will be your fault and you could be sued for it. It's called a known trespass. If you know it's happening and do nothing to stop it you're liable for whatever happens to them.

On that note, that's what I'd tell them. That legally you cannot have them on your property unless invited because of the insurance liability involved. I'm sure they'll tell you it's fine and they'd never sue, blah blah blah but your hands are tied. You just can't have them on the property without your authorization for liability reasons. So sorry. Will invite them over a lot.
 
elle sagenev
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Blame the insurance people. Everybody will buy it.

When you own the property, tell them your insurance guy freaked out when he heard people and kids were wandering onto a property with water (drowning hazard and liability), and told you to put up No Trespassing signs.

But you being a good neighbour didn't want to do that; you just need people to arrange times to come visit the waterfall.



Haha someone thinking just like me!!!
 
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Hah! I had exactly this when growing up. Parents owned a property with a waterfall, neighbors had been walking over and visiting for years. Only difference was, the neighbors owned a vacation home next door, and the lady admitted she used it as her shower!!!

We lived with it, they only come up a few times a year, and it is a good 500 m of windy trail from the house, but I imagine we would have had a very different response if it was right beside the house. Cant complain, I used their trails to cross country ski in the winter, and walk my dog in the summer if they were gone too.

Also- no clue what your climate is, but it was always bitter cold by the waterfall in winter spring and fall due to the water vapour, and humid in summer. Ymmv.
 
master pollinator
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If you have not closed on the property, you may want to reconsider.  
 
master steward
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When we bought our current property, we assumed that the hunters who owned adjacent property had been hunting our property since it had had an absentee owner for a long time.

We put up no trespassing signs according to our state law.

We have a game camera and caught a neighbor at one of our deer feeders on the game camera.  He said he was looking for us.

In my opinion it is best to put an end to neighbors coming on the property before something bad happens.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I agree, it's important to let people know who's calling the shots.

Better if you can slip on the velvet glove.
 
pollinator
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Fence, gate across driveway that locks, signs explaining the insurance/legal issues, done.

Once you move in have an "open house" to meet the neighbors and let everyone know "the problem", maybe a BBQ? Let everyone know it will be "open" say first Saturday of each month or some such thing.
 
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I'm on board with what everyone else has said! Such great minds. How much do I love the "blame it on the insurance guy" comment. Solid gold. I gotta remember to use that next time my kid asks for a trampoline.
When we moved to our farm, we apparently bought the house that was everyone's "hangout" - read: the place they come to burn things, drink beer, watch football in the shop and sled down the steep hill on our front pasture. The first year we were there, it snowed (of course) and the neighbors showed up at 8:00am with their sleds without asking and started sledding. This after repeated pop in's and hints about wanting to continue having bonfires on our property. I had always brushed them back and gently, with a smile, rebuffed their advances. I am from suburbia and I moved to the country to have no more pop ins, and some peace and quiet!
Here's how I handled the sledding:
I went outside in my pjs and told them to leave. With a smile. I also put it back on them - I remember telling the mom that I didn't understand why she thought it was okay to take her children to a house with strangers in it on a rural acreage. We could be murderers. What were they thinking? *smile*
There were other little incidences after that - some of the male neighbors coming to the property and walking around in my pasture without asking. I did the same thing. I went out there and asked them to leave. I said it with a smile - something like "gosh, boys. You know you have to ask before coming onto my property. Don't do it again. Now you run along and be sure to call next time to see if you can come over. " And showing them the way out. The whole time just smiling and behaving as if they should know better. Because, you know what? They should. I like to start from "yes" - meaning, I like to believe that people will ultimately do the right thing, but sometimes lack the understanding or knowledge of what the right thing is for another person. My job is to educate them, with lot's of respect and a general love for people. I like to start there and if they push more, then I unleash the kraken.
My mantra has been the Iron Marshmallow. Nice and kind and absolutely unyielding. It has worked so far. The point is to be direct and instruct them on my rules and do it with manners. Now they all leave us alone and we leave them alone. I also have released any and all interest in what they think of me. And every time I see them, I smile and wave and ask how they are doing! I don't want to be rude, but I want my boundaries respected.
(Once I started building hugel beds I think they all thought I was nutso anyways and now they keep a wide berth.)
 
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I think everyone in town grew up hunting on my land, to hear them tell it. I just smile and say, yeah, well, you shoulda bought it when you had the chance. This leaves them puzzled for a bit until I am long gone. Same with the neighbors who have always hayed the hayfield, and ridden their ATVs across it, etc...

I think they just try to get away with as much as they can. New people might want to be nice and end up as door mats. I think polite but firm does the trick, just as others have said.
 
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