What legal action should I take against a neighbor who cut a couple inches of concrete from a walkway that leads to my backyard without my consent?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What legal action should I take against a neighbor who cut a couple inches of concrete from a walkway that leads to my backyard without my consent?

We were in the peocess of building a new driveway when the next door neighbor dug a 2 foot trench that clearly was dug in our property saying that since we tore out the driveway his land has no lateral support and a wall needed to be built. Digging the trench seemed to weaken any support his land had far beyond us removing the old driveway. We were very upset because he dug this 2 foot wide

trench without telling us. When we excavated our old driveway we took the land right up to the exact edge of a walkway we have alongside our house that leads to our backyard. He said that the walkway was built to wide originally by the previous owner like 2 inches on his side over the property line. A couple days later he proceeded to cut the 2 inches off our walkway that he said was over the property line on his side. All his actions were done without our permission and without providing us any type of proof where the property line is. What should we do? Has he committed a crime?

Asked on May 1, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Technically, assuming you are correct about the land boundaries, he committed a crime in intentionally destroying your property, but in practice, given that there is evidentally a dispute over the boundaries, the police and prosecutor are highly unlikely to treat this as a crime. Inteaad, they are most likely to treat this as a "civil" matter for resolution by the non-criminal court through a lawsuit. Your options are to sue for one or both of compensation for the damage he did and/or a court determination ("declaratory judgment") of where the boundary is, plus a court order ("injunction") that he not trespass on your land or damage your property. Such a lawsuit can be complex and expensive--you could definitely need to hire a surveryor to measure the land, write a report, and testify in court, and would most likely need an attorney, too (this is not the kind of suit that a non-lawyer is likely to be able to successfully handle). While you should consult with a real estate attorney about the situation, you may find taking action more trouble and costly than it is worth. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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