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Boarders ex-barn owner trespassing - advice needed!
Long but PLEASE read and offer advice!
My best friend started boarding her horse at my house a little over a month ago. She had a bad falling out with her previous barn owner and did not leave under good terms at all. This has also caused the barn owner to say nasty things about me to many people since she felt I was "stealing business".
Last week I noticed that the barn doors were not shut properly (you must move 2 sliding barn doors and unlatch a gate to get into our barn). I also noticed some carrot pieces on the floor. I really paid no attention to this as I assumed my friend had been out to see her horse during the day while I was gone.
Tonight when she came out I mentioned the barn doors to her as I want to make sure they are shut properly in case a horse were to get out of a stall, etc. She told me her former barn owner had actually JUST sent her a message on facebook stating she "stopped by" but nobody was home so she went and fed the horse some carrots and "checked in on him".
I am beyond irate at this point! This is our home and private property. Not only did she show up with us not home (obviously our vehicles weren't in the driveway), but she just let herself into our barn. I have my stallion and a mare on contract to sell, my 2 huskies (who are not friendly wish strangers), and all my tack either in the barn or directly beside it.
I was not given this news until late tonight but plan on calling the sheriff in the morning and filing a complaint. I really don't want to have her arrested (this time) but don't want to have to constantly worry about my horses and dogs and tack (as well as anything else on our property)!
I plan to put up NO TRESPASSING signs this week but if I'm not home it would be pretty easy for her to ignore and it's very easy to see if we're home or not just by vehicles. I really don't want to resort to putting a real lock on the doors or gates due to fear or not being able to get in fast enough in an emergency.
Advice please? I'm not only stunned (as she's an adult and farm owner AND twice my age) but as angry as can be! It also really concerns me as she could have easily gotten bit by one of the dogs by walking into the barn had they been loose instead of tied that day (by pure luck).
Post your property according to your state's laws and also post about your dogs so that no one can go on your property and a) claim they didn't know they were trespassing and b) that they didn't know your dogs aren't friendly.
I'd also send her a certified, return receipt letter letting her know that you are aware she was there and let her know in writing that she is a)not welcome ever, b) trespassing and c) that you will persue a restraining order and legal action if she doesn't cease and desist immediately.
Keep a copy and the service receipt in a clearly labelled file in your house or in a safe deposit box if you have one. Then if she doesn't stop the behaviour you have covered your steps in documenting that she's been advised if you need to go to court to get a restraining order.
I would suggest posting 'private property' signs at the entrance to the property. Involving law enforcement at this stage will not accomplish anything. Most laws require notification of trespassing such as signs, locks etc... She may not know your barn is off limits, espcially if she was under the impression you were boarding horses.
I would then call this person and let her know that you were told she had stopped out at your barn and no one was around, let her know your barn is private property and not open to the public. In the future if she or anyone she sends to you, they need to contact you, then offer your contact information. Be as friendly as possible. If she is at all professional, she will apologize and that will be the end of it.
I understand how upset you are at someone being on your property and going into places you thought were secure. It does make the property owner defensive as heck and they have every right to be. Just remember to be the bigger person.
You can't prevent what people say about you, but you can control how you respond to it.
Added FYI - I do not generally board horses. My best friend was an exception with her horse staying with us. I don't take in boarders. She had asked previously about stopping out and seeing this horse and was told no. She was made well aware that I did not want her at our house and yet still chose to stop by when we weren't home...
Get a print out of that facebook message where she admits it and go to your local police. She has NO right to enter your property!
I work for a Sheriff's office in Iowa and these type of complaints require a lot of evidence/paper trail to take to court. Normally one call from the Deputy takes care of it. If it continues then they are given a promise to appear and everyone gets to go to court to speak to a judge. It is not a quick process at all.
Keep good records of dates and times, how you were notified and have those people write statements. All this will help you in the future in case it does go to court one day.
Originally I would have recommended that you contact her directly before going to law enforcement, but if she had been told previously that she wasn't welcome and came anyway, I think going to law enforcement now is the thing to do.
PS - I had a similiar issue with the ex-wife of the person we bought our place from. A uniformed sherriff's deputy showing up at her job and calling her outside to have a conversation about the trespassing pretty much cleared the problem right up.
If your tack is expensive, and what tack isn't, maybe you should set up some security cameras?
4 Channel Surveillance DVR with 4 Cameras and Mobile Monitoring Capabilities
I would post the no trespassing signs, contact the local law authority and get it stopped before you find out more and more people are stopping by.
BUT, do not post about agressive dogs, or before you do find out the current laws.
In most states,ff you post you have agressive dogs, then if someone gets bit on your property, even with the signs they can sue you because you are acknowledging that you have mean dogs. But if they come onto your property and are trespassing, then you stand a better chance of not getting sued for the bites since they had no business on your land.
If this was my situation, I would be bringing the police/sheriff into it immediately. Obviously since she had been told before that she is not welcome on your property, she is ignoring that and doing as she pleases.. Get the law involved before she or one of her cronies comes back when nobody is home and one of your horses gets hurt, or your friends horse or stuff gets stolen.
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