In our previous post, we discussed common problems for property owners regarding trespass and nuisance. While enforcing your legal rights is always a possibility, litigation is never a desired course. Instead, here are some suggestions that will help keep your property intruder free and, if it comes to it, bolster your legal claims.
Signs and Fencing
A "Posted: No Trespassing" sign is an inexpensive means of deterring unwanted traffic. Metal versions of these signs are available at your local hardware store and can be mounted to a tree or a fence post. Signs like these send a clear message—stay out—and this alone is probably enough to stop many ill-guided, but well-intentioned, trespassers. Double-sided signs are not necessary to get the point across (sorry again, Woody).
Fencing is another relatively simply option for keeping out both quad- and bipedal intruders. Unlike a sign, a fence cannot be missed or misinterpreted and it will literally stop ATVs, dogs, children, and even pesky adults from wandering onto your property.
Further, a fence or sign is especially important if your property is unimproved (perhaps a parcel for camping or the future site of a cottage). It puts the world on notice that you have an interest in the property and that you will be checking in from time to time. Again, simple steps like these will deter most casual trespassers.
Finally, some statutes (such as the recreational activity trespass statute, MCL § 324.73102) require the posting of a sign or the erection of fence for purposes of enforcement.
Communicate with any neighbors whom you trust about your trespassing concerns. An extra set of eyes—especially while you're away—are invaluable. They can provide forewarning of a problem or serve as a useful witness if it comes to litigation. Plus, it's quite easy to return the favor!
In short, keeping "your land yours" and "my land mine" has many benefits. Minimal efforts can go a long way to prevent a small issue today from becoming a big problem tomorrow. As always, consult with your attorney before taking legal action.
This blog post was co-authored by John Sturgis, a 2013 summer associate