Author Topic: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?  (Read 4758 times)

Will

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Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« on: February 17, 2014, 12:46:28 AM »
I knew this day was coming.  Back in the spring, the neighbors who were selling/moving pointed out that the fence we share was on the verge of collapse.  The wooden posts had rotted substantially.  He offered to do the work, and I told him I would help if I could and of course we would share the expense.  Before the work was ever done, they moved.  Not being incredibly (read: at all) handy, the fence went unrepaired.

Fast forward to this weekend:  heavy rain and even heavier winds.  Lots of gusts in excess of 40 mph.  The fence is now down on that side.  One of the renters here bragged about his construction skills ("I could tear this house down and build it right back up!) so I thought "Aha! He can repair/replace the fence and just deduct it from his rent."  But apparently he injured his shoulder fighting off an intruder at a friend's house and his shoulder is in a sling for a few weeks.  Having dogs who had free use of the backyard thanks to our doggie door and a fenced-in yard, it is kind of important to get a fence up soon. 

Anyhow, I've met and chatted with the new neighbors a couple of times.  Nothing big, just a little neighborly chat.  They seem like decent folk, but we are far from close (besides proximity).  To me, the fence is shared in that it is right on the property line and is just as attractive on both sides (well, at least it was before it fell down!).  However, they don't really seem to have any fence that is their "own."  What do I mean?  Almost all of their backyard is enclosed by all of the shared borders, but they don't have any fencing going from the fence on the property lines to their house. 

I am going to go over there tomorrow and let them know that I have someone coming out to give me an estimate.  My plan is to ask them if they would want the guy to give them an estimate to fence from the property line to their house thereby enclosing their backyard.  It seems like that might be a good time to see if they would be open to splitting the cost of the shared portion.  That's not unreasonable, is it?  I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.  What do you think?

ace1224

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2014, 05:37:05 AM »
i don't think it would hurt to ask but don't be surprised if they don't want to share in the costs, especially considering that technically their yard isn't fenced in.  i would say its a shared wall but only if they actually had a fence.  seems to me they are just in the middle of a whole bunch of people that have fences. 
as the neighbor, if i wasn't planning on fencing in the whole thing i really wouldn't want to split the cost because it wouldn't matter to me if the fence was up at all.
but like i said, never hurts to ask.  at least that way you know

KBecks

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2014, 06:21:41 AM »
You might want to check with your local ordinances about shared fences.  I had always thought that a fence goes on one neighbor's property a few inches away from the lot lines.  Maybe it is different in you area. 

phred

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 07:08:31 AM »
Fence goes on the lot line.  Otherwise, property is being legally given up via custom and length of time

Fireman

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2014, 07:39:56 AM »
I grew up on a farm and I remember Dad talking to the neighbors about cost sharing.  I don't think any of them really jumped on the idea of splitting the burden but here's my take:

You have a fence because you want to keep something in so it most directly benefits you.  Granted, the neighbors probably don't want your dogs in their yard, but they probably not so much that they'll share the cost.  Also, even if local ordinances allow for splitting the cost, weigh the cost of the fence versus the grumbling you'll get from your neighbor. 

Metta

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2014, 12:03:49 PM »
I am going to go over there tomorrow and let them know that I have someone coming out to give me an estimate.  My plan is to ask them if they would want the guy to give them an estimate to fence from the property line to their house thereby enclosing their backyard.  It seems like that might be a good time to see if they would be open to splitting the cost of the shared portion.  That's not unreasonable, is it?  I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.  What do you think?

Hi,

We're actually in your neighbor's position. If it were up to us, there would be no fences, but we're surrounded on all sides by people who want fences. About a week ago during a heavy storm one of our neighbor's fence panels came down. My husband went out to see if he could get it back up (we don't care about fences but we don't want debris, either) but no dice. He says it's a 2-3 person job. Our neighbor has shown no urgency in getting it back up, nor has he talked to us. If he does talk to us, we have no problem pitching in half the money to get things fixed (though we wouldn't want to pay for an entire new fence either).

We probably wouldn't want our neighbor deciding that we need additional fencing to fence in our property. It would make us claustrophobic and wouldn't want the person to automatically price additional fencing for us. (Seems very pushy.) But if it was all handled politely, we would be ok and I'm sure your neighbor will be ok as well.

In our situation, if the fence panel stays down for a few more weeks, we will do our best to make what repairs we can. We all lose if no one makes things better.

Carolyn
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 12:05:33 PM by Carolyn »

Will

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2014, 12:08:22 PM »
I am going to go over there tomorrow and let them know that I have someone coming out to give me an estimate.  My plan is to ask them if they would want the guy to give them an estimate to fence from the property line to their house thereby enclosing their backyard.  It seems like that might be a good time to see if they would be open to splitting the cost of the shared portion.  That's not unreasonable, is it?  I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.  What do you think?

Hi,

We're actually in your neighbor's position. If it were up to us, there would be no fences, but we're surrounded on all sides by people who want fences. About a week ago during a heavy storm one of our neighbor's fence panels came down. My husband went out to see if he could get it back up (we don't care about fences but we don't want debris, either) but no dice. He says it's a 2-3 person job. Our neighbor has shown no urgency in getting it back up, nor has he talked to us. If he does talk to us, we have no problem pitching in half the money to get things fixed (though we wouldn't want to pay for an entire new fence either).

We probably wouldn't want our neighbor deciding that we need additional fencing to fence in our property. It would make us claustrophobic and wouldn't want the person to automatically price additional fencing for us. (Seems very pushy.) But if it was all handled politely, we would be ok and I'm sure your neighbor will be ok as well.

In our situation, if the fence panel stays down for a few more weeks, we do our best to make what repairs we can. We all lose if no one makes things better.

Carolyn

Oh no, I certainly haven't decided they need additional fencing!  I just thought I would let them know I have someone coming out and if they wanted a quote for that while my guy was here I would send him over.  Not trying to be pushy at all. 

honobob

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2014, 03:18:38 PM »
In California the general rule is that if a fence completes an enclosure on your property you are liable for your share and a lien can be placed against your property.  If they are not interested in enclosing their yard then you get to make all the decisions about the fence including which side the pretty side faces.

Mori

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 09:44:28 AM »
Are you certain that the fence is on the property line (survey confirmed)? I just want to make certain because if you put it back up in the same spot and find out it's technically your neighbor's yard, then it's their fence.

From the Washington Legislature: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=16.60.020

Quote
When any fence has been, or shall hereafter be, erected by any person on the boundary line of his or her land and the person owning land adjoining thereto shall make, or cause to be made, an inclosure, so that such fence may also answer the purpose of inclosing his or her ground, he or she shall pay the owner of such fence already erected one-half of the value of so much thereof as serves for a partition fence between them

Hope that helps! Sounds like, legally, it's you unless your neighbor wants to enclose the rest of their land.

CommonCents

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Re: Good fences make good neighbors, but who pays?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2014, 02:36:33 PM »
My BIL had this issue, where a neighbor essentially presented them with a bill for their "half" of the fence (even though it wasn't their fence) that needed to be fixed.  They mostly were unhappy that they had no say.  They could have refused to pay and considered it but decided to be a "good neighbor" and pay, while making clear that in the future, they should be consulted first.  Apparently even that did not go over well.  (The ex-wife was the issue, not the ex-husband actually living in the house as their neighbor.)

It sounds like it's your fence, your property so any costs are on you (lucky if they will chip in).  If you want a contribution, reach out to them and ask, and let them help make decisions, but it sounds like you have a necessity for it to keep your animal on your property, so it's your obligation not theirs.  Also, my understanding has always been the owner put the nice side facing away.  Odd rule when you think about it (considering you are paying), but thems the apples.