Introducing Idaho Land Law blog’s Hall of Shame… “Florida Woman Bulldozes Neighbor’s Mobile Home”
We at the Idaho Land Law blog have started a special section called the “Hall of Shame.” This new section is dedicated to discussing the most outrageous land-use, real estate, and construction stories in the news. Hopefully you will enjoy these updates as much as we do.
Our initially entry comes to us from St. Augustine, Florida where Ms. Ana Maria Moreta Folch is alleged to have hired a contractor to bulldoze her neighbor’s mobile home. Yes, you are reading this correctly. A number of news organizations from around the country have picked this up but I particularly like the reporting from the New York Daily News.
The story unfolds with Ms. Folch allegedly convincing a contractor to bulldoze her neighbor’s mobile home by showing him a key to the house. According to the news reports, the victim of the “bulldozing” returned to find her mobile home completely destroyed. Ms. Folch was subsequently questioned, arrested, and charged with criminal mischief in the case. The damages are estimated at $26,000.
Yes, this case is outrageous and entertaining but it also provides a couple of teaching moments for those in the land use arena:
First: Never underestimate how people will react in a neighborhood dispute.
This is an extreme case and worthy of the Hall of Shame but it is also illustrative of what can happen when neighbors begin behaving irrationally. I recently was approached concerning a neighborhood dispute where an adjoining property owner was patrolling their property line with firearms and ATVs. My initial reaction was to tell the individual that there might not be a legal solution to the matter and that they should consider moving. The point is that some of these situations can become dangerous and that often there is not a legal solution for dealing with unhappy neighbors.
Second: Contractors should investigate ownership before beginning work.
There are a number of reasons for contractors to make sure they are dealing with the owner. Chiefly, you want to be paid for your work but also you want to make sure you will not be sued for performing work (or demolition) on someone else’s property. A typical situation could involve performing work at the direction of a tenant instead of an owner. The tenant may not have the authority to authorize the work and may not have the ability to pay for the work once it is completed.
We will continue to post new updates to the Hall of Shame. If you have any stories you feel may be worthy, please let us know. And remember… be careful who has your house key.