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'AITA for not letting my neighbors use my yard? They claim it's normal on this street.' UPDATED

'AITA for not letting my neighbors use my yard? They claim it's normal on this street.' UPDATED

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Not wanting strangers in your yard is usually a normal request, but every neighborhood has different precedents set.

"AITAH for not letting my neighbors use my yard?"

I (F26) recently bought a house with my husband. Our house is a beachfront house with an amazing yard. The backyard is designed to basically look like a hidden oasis. It has a pool, hot tub, water fountains on the side, and a small slide all surrounded by trees and other plants. The trees give us privacy from both houses next to us but still gives us the view of the beach.

The backyard is why we bought the home and we already spend the majority of our time being back there, even when my husband works. The entire backside of the house is mostly glass so it’s also what we see when we are in the house. It is definitely the focal point of our home. Yesterday, we started the construction on a new fence.

This fence goes around the backyard with a gate only to the beach, so you either have to go through the house to go through the beach to get to our backyard. We didn’t think anything of it before I got a knock on my door this morning from someone who lives in the condos across the street from us. I have seen her a few times but we never really talked.

She introduced herself and then asked about what we were building in our yard. I just told her that we wanted to put up a fence before tourists start coming (this was recommended to us by our realtor). Marie kinda looked shocked and asked if we were putting a gate on the front or anything. I said no and that we already had a landscaper come and look to get more plants put around it.

She then asked me if I could put a gate on the front. I didn’t really understand this so I asked her to clarify when she explained that the previous owners would let people from the condo walk through their yard to get to the beach because otherwise they have to walk 5 minutes down the street to get onto the beach where there are a lot of tourists (our street leads to private beach so there isn’t as many people).

She said that mostly everyone in the condo started doing this over the past few years, especially people with kids (or even just letting their kids go to the beach alone). She also said that they would let people use their pool if they texted as asked. I immediately told her that no one would be in my yard unless I knew them.

She obviously got upset by this and then said that basically everyone in the condos would be upset by this. I told her that I understand why they want to use my yard and that it's just to pass through but I hate the idea of being in my backyard and having random people walk through. She started getting mad at me for it and saying that I am ruining a lot of people’s way of life by blocking off this path.

She claimed that a lot of people let their kids during the summer go to the beach through this way and a lot of kids can’t walk to the popular spots (the beach is kinda quiet where we are). I did get annoyed and told her that I don’t really care and that I will not let people into my yard. She tried to bring up the pool but I just told her that I wasn’t going to talk about it anymore.

This was yesterday afternoon and I’ve already seen people standing outside the condos and pointing to my house. I even had someone run over to talk to me and ask if I was really “gating off the beach path”. I’ve talked to both my neighbors who agree with me but my friend and sister are both saying I'm in the wrong. So AITA?

Per usual, the internet weighed in with their opinions.

GroundbreakingTwo201 wrote:

I'm a bit confused, do these condo owners have access to this private beach? If so it's on their landowner/manager to provide that. If not, then they really have no argument regardless. Either way, easy NTA. Private property is private property, plain and simple.

OP responded:

It is not technically a private beach. There just isn't a public entrance unless they walk down the street.

Vandreeson wrote:

NTA. If anything happens to these people on your property you are liable. Who cares what happened in the past? The previous owners aren't the owners anymore, you are. Like the saying goes your house your rules. You also don't want people littering or destroying your yard. They have to walk five minutes, oh boo hoo. Your friend and your sister don't own your property.

Tame_Iguana1 wrote:

What exactly did your friend and sister say which would make you in the wrong ? If this ain’t bait…

OP responded:

My sister feels like its a "rich person issue" and that they're not hurting anyone. My friend feels like anyone should have access to the beach and it's rude to make parents with kids walk down during the summer.

Slightlysanemomof5 wrote:

Put up cameras all around the fence and yard because condo owners are going to not respect your fence. Or worse damage property fencing, try to climb fence especially since condo people consider you have stolen something from them.

Might also talk to an attorney about options if condo people retaliate. High resolution cameras with recording. It really wasn’t very nice of previous owners to warn you that this would be a problem.

​MrsWaterBuffalo wrote:

Omg NO . Install a Locked gate. Send a lawyer letter to the Condo board of directors, stating under no circumstances is your private property to be an access point in any circumstances. It’s for everyone’s safety and insurance. They will be trespassed. I would not want anyone to sue. What if someone is hurt on your property or drowned in your hot tub.

What if a child was lost, someone attacked, the scenarios are alarming. Protect yourself and 5 min walk is not the end of the world. It’s not your responsibility to insure access for the public. Confirm this is your personal legal access. It’s irresponsible, what would your insurance company say?

The next day, OP shared an update.

I just wanted to start by thanking everyone for their suggestions! I did want to cover a few things. I do have a fence around my pool area, this is just to protect my yard. Secondly, we have indoor and outdoor cameras all around our house. Some are visible and some are hidden. We do already have a sign up that says that we are recording.

The fence will also be finished by tomorrow afternoon, so it shouldn’t be too long for us to have it up. I also called our local p*lice and they said that they did not have a right to use private property to access the beach so everything is clear for me to move forward with.

The previous owners had the house for 10 years and only let people use it for the past three years so it’s not long enough for any legal action to force me to give up my yard (per our lawyer). I called my realtor this morning and the owners called me after she talked to them and said a lot about the situation.

They told me that they only used the house as a vacation home and so they did let people cross during the summer but when they were there, they put up a sign telling people to not use the path. They said that they didn’t let people do it at first but when they weren’t home people did it anyway. They also allowed certain people to use their pool only when they were in it themselves.

It was never a free-for-all pool and they even put the cover on it before leaving. The previous owners did also say that it was smart to put up a fence and recommended calling the condo manager. When I did call the condo manager, they asked if we could find a “middle ground” because they know that a lot of residents use my yard and kinda made it sound like they told residents that they could use this path.

My neighbor thinks that they used it as a selling point because there were times where they would point towards our house specifically while people were looking at condos. Either way, my husband is having our lawyer send the condo a letter stating that no residents are allowed in our yard for any reason so that we have legal writing with them.

So basically people have used our yard in the past, but my husband and I aren't allowing it. I get them using it if we had it as a vacation home, but we are living in it year round so. A lot of my neighbors who live in the houses have messaged me and said that they’re really happy I'm cutting off the path, so I feel like it’s the right move.

I have already put up no trespassing and no beach access signs and had permanent ones for the front of our hard and on the fences. I also am putting up a privacy fence in the front and adding trees right in front of it so it's harder for people to jump it.

We are also connecting our gate right to our neighbors so that there isn't a spot on the side that they can try and squeeze through. Either way, I am going to cut off the path and I kinda don't care if they hate me for it. Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!

The internet was invested.

cthulularoo wrote:

No middle ground. If they feel entitled to walk through your backyard, giving them any sort of concession means they're going to cement that into an easement down the line. Pretty sure your neighbors are getting tired of random kids walking through the area too. Good luck.

Big_It wrote:

The condo should be paying the homeowners a fee for claiming that property as free access to help their bottom line. I would not give a single shit about those people in the condo. The gaul of demanding I give up my private property so they can save 5 minutes walking.

Laquila wrote:

I couldn't imagine sitting outside in my backyard enjoying the beautiful day, relaxing, reading or having guests for dinner, and a parade of randos go walking by. Like, what are those people thinking??

Good for you, for cutting off that crazy entitlement. It's all fun and games until someone trips and injures themselves. Then all of a sudden, you'd be the bad guy being sued because you didn't create a perfectly safe path for the precious petals who can't walk an extra 5 minutes.

Iwishyouwell2024 wrote:

Good update OP. It's nice that you making that place a home and already have improvments to make sure everything is secure. I believe your neighbour will also feel safier because cars will park closer to the real path and not along the street.

MrsWaterBuffalo wrote:

Doing things correctly for your safely and the safely of neighbours and strangers IS the only reasonable solution. This is the only responsible adult good neighbour action that should be done. Middle ground my a*s, lol. Good for you on a job well done! Pics of your “”No Trespassing” signs or It never happened. :)

Babalonnuith wrote:

NEVER let strangers use your yard to walk through. You could be sued if anyone gets hurt, and why allow access to your property for "just anyone"? That 'anyone" could include burglars; don't make it easy for them! We had a farm where a snowmobile trail angled through it, well away from the house, and we allowed it.

Next thing you know, we had people with their ATVs freely cutting across our property close to the house in the SUMMER, assuming that just because we allowed snowmobile traffic in winter, that meant they could use the trail in summer for their ATVs!

Sources: Reddit
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