Boundaries are necessary for any healthy relationship, be it family, friends or neighbors. Setting limits provides personal space and a sense of safety, and offers the opportunity for mutual respect. This is also true when it comes to property. As the saying goes, "Good fences make good neighbors." But what do you do if your boundaries are not respected? How do you set the limits and make them clear to anyone concerned?
Communicate clearly to neighbors, in person if possible, that there are boundaries and that they should not be crossed. Expressing a desire for privacy and explaining your legal rights will let them know where the limits have been set. Do not threaten or harass them. Communicate in an open and friendly way to set a positive tone in the relationship. Be kind and firm at the same time.
Mark the boundaries so that there is no question about where the property lines lie. Displaying "No Trespassing" signs will alert those who are not aware and remind those who are that they should not cross the boundaries. This is a legal requirement in most areas if trespassing is to be legally inhibited.
Warn trespassers the first time they are caught crossing the line. The boundary may have been overlooked and the trespass may not be intentional, or the signs may not have been seen, but a firm warning will reinforce the seriousness of crossing the boundary without an invitation. After a warning that legal authorities will be contacted upon another violation, follow through. If the boundary is crossed, call the police or sheriff.
Set physical obstacles along the boundary if necessary, including landscape shrubbery, cactus, fencing, a stone wall, a tree line or other objects that help mark the property line and serve to reinforce the idea that it is not to be crossed.
File a restraining order if a violator continues to ignore the law. Contact the district attorney's office or state attorney's office. Work with law enforcement to find out what is needed to file such an order.
- Be aware of your rights and the laws, because there are legal limits that govern how you may treat trespassers and how you may defend your rights. You have a right to exclude certain people or groups of people from your property; however, use of force or firearms to warn trespassers may be illegal in your area.