What to Do When a Neighbor Puts Snow on Your Property?

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Removing snow is enough of a hassle, so what to do when a neighbor dumps it on your yard? This action means more work for you. And even if you say nothing, deciding to leave the snow until it melts, will this give your neighbor a license to dump grass clippings next summer — and leaves in the fall?

If your neighbor puts snow on your property, you have several options. You can put it back, be direct or involve the authorities. Tossing back the snow sounds good, but will backfire, so don’t ignore it, assume they don’t know where the property line lies, or use humor. You could also choose to put it back, be direct or involve the authorities. Tossing back the snow sounds good, but will backfire, so don’t.     

Before you go out to brave the cold weather, take a few minutes and read through these strategies.  

Ignore the Snow

Sometimes the best strategy is to ignore the problem. After all, the snow will melt. If it is not going to cause permanent damage, ignoring the problem might make it go away. 

If they are the kind of people who do stuff to get a rise out of other people, don’t give them the satisfaction of getting under your skin. 

However, ignoring it might make the problem worse. And if this is not the first time your neighbor has done it, then clearly, ignoring it isn’t working.

Assume Your Neighbor Isn’t Aware of the Property Line

Your neighbor might not know where the property line lies, especially if you don’t have a fence. Even worse, you might be unclear about where your property ends. Fences, trees, and shrubs are not necessarily the best property line indicators.

Finding property lines can be tricky, but there are a few things that can make it easier:

  • Check the cut lines on sidewalks. Often a contractor will begin pouring concrete for a sidewalk at your property line.
  • Get access to  your property’s plat maps. A plat map shows the boundaries of all properties with exact dimensions. You can find it at your local zoning department, but many cities are going digital, allowing homeowners to find property dimensions online. In addition, sites like Acrevalue will offer you nationwide information.
  • Look for property pins. Surveyors sink 2 to 3-foot (0.6 to 0.91 meter) long iron bars on property lines. In some cases, those pins might be visible. If not, a metal detector will show you where they are buried.

Once you are sure where the property line falls, you can approach your neighbor and show them so they can stop putting snow on your property.

Ask Them To Remove It in a Light-Hearted Way

Try to make the request in a light-hearted manner. The saying you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar applies in this situation. Start a conversation with a light-hearted comment and see where it goes.

If you say something like, “thanks for the extra snow,” and your neighbor doesn’t respond well, you need to be more direct.

Be More Direct

If humor doesn’t work, then it’s time to be direct. Some of us struggle with being direct, so if that sounds like you, then you might want to try the “Dear Man” strategy.

Dear Man is an acronym for a set of steps to take when you need to be assertive. These steps will help you express yourself confidently while remaining respectful:

  1. Describe: Describe the situation by giving facts. Don’t be judgmental.
  2. Express: Express how you feel using “I” language.
  3. Assert: State what you want clearly.
  4. Reinforce: Show appreciation to the other person if they respond well. Also, commiserate with them.
  5. Mindfulness: Be mindful of your purpose, and don’t let yourself get distracted.
  6. Appear confident: Use confident body language, such as standing straight, making eye contact, and not fidgeting.
  7. Negotiate: Be willing to compromise. You still want the snow removed, but it doesn’t have to be this weekend.

If you approach a neighbor about a specific issue, they may refuse to talk to you. But there’s no harm in giving it a shot. Go over to the neighbor and ask for a chance to talk things over.  

Still, try and avoid talking to them in their front yard where other neighbors can see them. Some people like calling attention to themselves so that the rest of the neighborhood will leave them alone.

Unfortunately, if your neighbor is one of them, they are likely to make a spectacle of themselves, and you won’t accomplish anything.

So, if you want to have a friendly chat with your neighbor about the snow issue, try to avoid doing it out in the open.

Put the Snow Back

Although you might be tempted to shovel the snow back, this is probably the least effective strategy. Some neighbors are just obnoxious and don’t care, and getting into a snow fight will not get you the outcome you want.  

Instead, take the “I’m a bigger person” attitude. If you have tried everything, you know that the neighbor will find a way to retaliate. Be the mature person in this situation. If you don’t, the problem with this obnoxious neighbor has the potential to escalate.

Have you ever heard the saying don’t fight a pig? If you do, you’ll just end up in the same pit with the pig. If you retaliate, you might lose the respect of the other people in your neighborhood.

Call the Authorities

In most municipalities, throwing things on someone’s property is a form of trespassing, and those typically include snow. Cities also have rules about snow removal. If you are planning on contacting the authorities, find out more about the laws governing your community.

Usually, fines will only be issued based on complaints. So don’t expect the police to pull into your neighbor’s driveway and issue a citation. If you choose to go this route, you will have to make the call yourself.

Also, if there are older neighbors in the neighborhood, offer to help clear their driveway or walkway. A kind gesture can get other neighbors on your side. Maybe one of them will talk to your neighbor so that the authorities don’t have to get involved. Or, perhaps they will be the ones to call the authorities.

Use Good Snow Removal Etiquette

Make sure you are using good snow removal etiquette. If not, your snow removal methods may be annoying your neighbors, and this could be their way of letting you know.

  • Avoid tossing your snow onto your neighbors’ lawn. It’s possible that you had the property line wrong. 
  • Try to avoid using a loud snowblower early in the morning or late at night. For example, if you’ve been clearing snow at 11 p.m., your neighbor could be sending you a message.

Yes, your neighbor could talk to you instead of using this passive-aggressive approach, but some people are not comfortable speaking directly.

Bottom Line

In a perfect world, neighbors would get along and help one another. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. If snow keeps appearing on your property courtesy of your neighbor, try out these strategies and hope for the best. 

And remember that the expression “revenge is a dish best served cold” refers to vengeance being more satisfying if served later. If you seek revenge now, your neighbor will merely seek revenge later.

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