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Homeowner 'screws up' neighborhood by closing property, 'I started getting notes.' AITA?

Homeowner 'screws up' neighborhood by closing property, 'I started getting notes.' AITA?


"AITA for moving in and screwing up the neighborhood by fencing and closing my property?"

This started over the summer, is continuing, so sourcing some insight. I don't need legal advice, I have an attorney. I purchased an estate property. By the time the owners passed they hadn’t lived on site for almost a decade. The property is wooded with lake access from the back of the lot, and was overgrown.

Because of the woods and the distance between lots, I didn’t expect to see my neighbors but at first I had people stopping by telling me how great it was I was cleaning up and renovating the property. I work from home so it was nice to meet the people living nearby.

So all fine until the last steps, pouring a concrete pad for my van and finishing the fencing. I hadn’t moved in yet, but once the extra driveway and pad were added, I parked my van. When I returned for the final move in, there was a massive gouge down the length of it, as if someone had squeezed another vehicle by or dragged something else large by it.

Anyway, moved myself and my dog in, and because of the dog and the incident with the van, I closed my gates. In doing so, I closed access to the lake through my property. I learned immediately the neighbors have been using my driveway to get to the water for awhile, as the old owners were either never here or didn't care. I started getting notes and knocks on the door about the problem I caused.

I don’t mind the occasional neighborhood kid knocking, but this was nonstop - three to four groups a day and they were not always polite. I was asked to move my van and vehicles so people could back boats down the drive (I’m now assuming that’s how my van got gouged).

I explained the dog and reasons for having a fence, but have been met with criticism that I’m changing how things “have always worked around here.” Last straw was people opening the gate on their own and then getting upset my dog was “loose.”

I acted by putting up a no trespassing sign, a sign indicating a dog on site, cameras, locks, and an intercom by my door so when people ring I can tell them I’m working and not have to come down to the door.

Even though the summer season is over, I’m still getting notes and voicemails telling me that access to the lake is “grandfathered in” as the previous owners allowed it and it’s been going on “forever.” These are coming from two houses (a woman in her 50s and a couple about the same age) who claim they represent the homeowners association (although when I purchased there wasn’t a single thing about neighborhood covenants or an actual, organized, homeowners association).

Sometimes the communication takes on a more formal approach, other times it’s informing me how bad of a person I am for “ruining the neighborhood.” My attorney assures me this neighbor proclaimed easement is absolutely not a thing (he’s done the legwork), but these are people I’ll presumably be living nearby for a long time, and I’d prefer to be cordial. AITA for changing up the neighborhood vibe?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

teresajs said:

NTA. You might consider putting up a sign that says, "Private Property No Lake Access."

Commercial-Cut5362 said:

NTA. Your neighbors are entitled and suck. They can all band together and fund a new driveway to the lake if it means that much to them. It's your property, you paid for it. They don't have any rights over how you manage your property.

medium_buffalo_wings said:

NTA. It's...It's your property. You own it. If you don't want people using it, and this is totally your right, that's that. They are being insanely greedy and entitled.

ExRiverFish4557 said:

NTA. If your neighbors wanted to keep access to the lake, they should have bought the property. You have no obligation to let people into your property, plus it might be a liability if you do and they get hurt.

If they don't stop, you might want to invest in some motion activated sprinklers. If you haven't, your attorney should contact them about staying out and leaving you alone. Keep track of everything they're doing in case you need a restraining order.

FuzzyMom2005 said:

NTA. These people took advantage of the previous owners and their absence, now they're trying to bs you. They've damaged your property, trespassed, endangered your dog, and annoyed you to no end. They'll have to find another way to the lake. It's a lake. Surely, there's another access point.

DesertSong-LaLa said:

NTA - You can be cordial and not allow access. This is your preference and any mishaps while others access the lake is your liability.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this neighborhood?

Sources: Reddit
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