If my neighbor gave permission for retaining wall but got mad at how long it was taking, what can be done if they now want a portion removed?

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If my neighbor gave permission for retaining wall but got mad at how long it was taking, what can be done if they now want a portion removed?

The bulk of the wall is on my property but at one end it needed to be turned back into their property to end the wall and retain their soil; I kept it to a minimum and less than a foot is visible. Before the project started I asked several times to be sure this would be OK with her and was told yes every time. Nothing in writing, but I do have a witness. My old retaining wall was wood and also returned onto her property to end it, but was failing and had to be replaced. The wall benefits her as well as myself but I am being threatened with trespass, should I be worried?

Asked on June 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you need to be worried. Generally, an oral or verbal agreement can be enforced, but the big problem with one is proving its terms. If the neighbor believes she gave you permission to do the work as long as it was not too disruptive or was done in a reasonable period of time and now revokes any permission, it can be difficult to prove what was said or meant. Also, what you are discuss is not merely permission to work on her property; it's to create a permanent right to build (part of the wall) on her property, which is usually created by an easement, which *must* be in writing. You should consult with a real estate attorney about legally, how to enforce the rights you need and believe you have; you should also consider how, as a practical matter, to mollify your neighbor, such as by perhaps paying her for her inconvenience or modifyng the wall so it gets done quicker and is less intrusive. Your attorney can advise you on this, too.


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