WelcomeSunday, December 4th, 2022
Question about ethics of a Surveyor
We live in a small county. There is one Surveyor that does 95% of all the surveys in the County. I will also add that most of my neighbors are elderly (70's and 80's). My neighbor across the street needed a survey for a will they were setting up. The Surveyor who does 95% of the work does not have a great reputation so the couple tried to find a surveyor from a town over. Absolutely no one wanted to take the job. They told my neighbors that our local surveyor makes it difficult for other surveyors. They said something about he wouldn't answer questions or provide information on past surveys and it's generally a courtesy thing you all do. OK, so they go with the guy who does them all (and he is licensed). We moved here two years ago and almost all my neighbors told me that the person living next to me was moving property lines (let's call him Tom). No one confronted him because they are afraid of him (this is important to note).
So, the surveyor arrives and walks around their property, makes a call and disappears. They are confused so they ask if I can come over. As I'm walking out my door, I see Tom pull up in his blacked out SUV and the surveyor jumps inside. I go back inside because something felt off and I didn't want them to see me. So, an hour goes by and they are still in the SUV. Finally, the surveyor gets out and my neighbor Tom drives off. I walk across the street and I take notes of where he starts the survey, etc. I can't tell you why I felt something was wrong but I did. I also am aware that I know nothing about surveys. Also their property seemed pretty straightforward so I didn't want to upset them for no reason.
The survey was done in less than an hour. Four months go by and they still don't have the survey. It's holding up the will. Finally they get the survey and immediately my neighbor says he followed the surveyor and he took out a pin and put it 5ft over. I look at the survey and it says nothing about that pin. They place a few calls to him and he never calls back. They do not have a computer or internet so they give me a letter and ask if I can type it for them. I'm posting the letter because it's not threatening. They are elderly and they had a few questions. They paid him in full so I would think he could answer their questions. This doesn't happen.
About a week after they sent the letter, my neighbor is grocery shopping and gets a call from the Sheriff. She immediately thinks something terrible has happened to one of her kids. She is TERRIFIED. She calls my husband and asks him to go tell her husband (because they only have one cell phone). My husband walks over and waits for the Sheriff to arrive. The sheriff arrives and SERVES them with a letter from an attorney on behalf of the surveyor! I'm attaching it because it's beyond crazy.
It's obvious the attorney just wants what they know. Also, they NEVER contacted the County Surveyor, but no one was holding their breath for that. My neighbors tried to hire a new surveyor but no one wants to survey in this county and they just don't have the money. Also important to note is that after this letter, I looked up the surveyor and his license was suspended in the past but not for anything like this. I'm also really questioning the validity of surveys he did in the shared community I live in.
What do you think? What should we do next if no one wants to survey here?
I have no problem with the surveyor meeting with "Tom". It is quite normal for a Surveyor to meet and talk with people in the neighborhood to find out what they might know about local boundaries and monuments. That is perfectly above board. If "Tom" chooses to hold such a meeting in his truck, that is his business, and not particularly unusual. And I can easily see such a discussion carrying on for an hour.
It is highly unlikely that the survey took less than an hour. The part you saw may have, but a great deal more went on at the surveyors office and at the county deed records room, to say nothing of the data that the surveyor may have collected in your neighborhood over the years.
Every surveyor in the country has a big backlog of work these days. Four months to get on something is not unheard of at all. Problems with communicating with the client are troubling -but the client has no internet, the usual manner of communicating these days.
It is not the surveyors fault that your neighbor is intimidated by "Tom" and TERRIFIED of the sheriff.
There are plenty of places in this country where there are few surveyors. Mostly because the land is low value and the people are unwilling to pay for better service. It would be better if you had more choices. If there is money to be made the service will be there. It's the American way. Sorry to be so blunt about it.
Your neighbor deserves an explanation from the surveyor for why a monument was moved 5 feet. That could be what the surveyor was explaining to "Tom" for an hour. That is on the surveyor.
Telling a Professional Land Surveyor that he "lacks professionalism" is an attack on his person, his business, his very means of supporting himself and his family - as well as those of his employees and their families. It just about the worst thing you could say. Fightin' words. I'm not surprised that he has lawyered up and responded aggressively. You reap what you sow.
Tell them to take you to court. Give them nothing. If you give an adversarial attorney anything outside of a sanctioned court hearing, you're done for. Make the scumbag, i mean attorney work for it.
They can't get anything from you in Costs, fees etc unless they sue you and prevail. Nothing is awarded without a trial, especially in a situation like this.
Actually kind of comical that this attorney is using such simpleton and sophomoric attempts to fear someone into giving up any evidence at all.
Stick to your guns and make them sue. Give up nothing to settle for the process, for the love of God, people need to grow up and be adults...
and fwiw, Bill said it best.. IANAL...
Based on the information you've provided, I'm not leaning towards your side of the argument.
Your accusations of lack of professionalism and being influenced are just unsubstantiated assumptions. You don't actually know what went on with the survey or that mysterious conversation in the SUV. It could be nothing more than that their kids are on the same hockey team.
Knowing nothing about the actual surveying that took place, my only issue with the surveyor is if he's really not responding to the client's calls/emails, which is usually the crux of a lot of disputes
I'll add this too....
If his license has been suspended ever, that's not trivial.
Your saber rattling is being met with similar response.
Rule one in legal shenanigans is not to tell the opposition what you're planning on doing to try to get what you want. Empty and projected threats just make sure everyone is getting too worked up over usually something simple, and most likely a miscommunication or lack of communication between the two sides.
This sounds like a city lot survey. It should be a simple matter for you and the owners to find the subdivision plat of the neighborhood, compare the survey that was delivered to the plat, and use a carpenter's tape to see if the monuments the surveyor found/set are the right distance apart (recognizing your measurements will not be super accurate).
I would do that before accusing anyone of doing it wrong.
@mark-mayer I appreciate the bluntness. I’m asking for all of your opinions so thank you. I’m just the messenger.
@jph thank you. I’m just the messenger asking for my neighbors since they don’t have computers. I’m going to explain this all to them. Sometimes you need to see both sides and that’s what I got from your responses.