Austin Fence Dramas – Dealing With Unreasonable Neighbors

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on September 29, 2011 · 17 comments

Austin FenceMost homes in Austin have fenced back yards. Most fences are built on the property line. The standard wood fence lasts about 8-15 years before it needs replacing (less if it’s a cheap starter home fence).

Usually, when replacement is needed, reasonable neighbors work it out and get it done, sharing materials and labor in a way agreeable to both, depending on who gets the “good” side and who wants the fence the most. Ideally, this is just an old fashioned handshake agreement and all goes well, and both neighbors are happy with the result.

But often things don’t go well. It only takes one unreasonable neighbor to make things difficult. Having managed and owned rentals in Austin for 20+ years, I’ve had many more “fence encounters” the past three months alone than most Austinites will encounter in 2 decades. What have I learned? … there are some very weird Austin kooks out there when it comes to dealing with fence issues.

Scenario #1 – Petulant ManBoy Brat and his Parents, Fiancee and Great Dane
I own a duplex in South Austin. I use to own the duplex next door as well. I purchased both in 1999 and sold one in 2003, keeping the other. There had never been a fence between the two duplexes, though there had always been fences along the surrounding lot lines in back and the outer sides. I’ve never rented to tenants with pets at the duplex, so I never needed or wanted a fence for each individual yard.

At some point, the new owner next door, without my knowledge or permission, installed a chain-link fence connecting the front corners of the two duplexes, thus creating a large combined “shared” fenced yard in back encompassing the back yard of my Unit B and their Unit A. Apparently, the tenant (daughter of the owner) asked my tenant at the time if it would be ok for them to have a dog. My tenant, as I’m told by the neighbor, said it would be ok. I never knew of this. Besides, the tenant wasn’t the proper person to ask as they don’t own the property.

Recently my new tenant reported to me ongoing problems with the neighbor, now the owner’s son, and dogs roaming the back yard, crapping in it, and making the yard a health hazard for her small kids because of all the dung.

At this point, and perhaps I expect too much of people, one would think:

A) Good pet owners don’t let their dogs run loose and crap in their neighbor’s yard.

B) it should take no more than a simple request to keep someone else’s dogs off my property.

That’s not how it went.

Upon talking in person with the ManBoy/tenant, a petulant college punk with no common sense, he took the brazen position of “if you don’t want my dog crapping in your yard, pay me to build a fence”.

Reason and logic failed to persuade the young man, so I gave him my business card and asked him to have the property owner, his father, call me. I never received a call. I eventually mailed a Certified Demand Letter to the owner address listed in the County Tax Records stating, in short, “keep your dog off my property and pick up your dog feces”. No response, the letter was never signed for. I explained to my tenant the steps I had taken and told her to let me know if the problems continue.

Next, another email letter from my tenant:

Dog Poop

Neighbors Dog Poop Picked up from My Property

“So sorry to be a bother again.  I try so hard not to complain :(.  The dogs next door, or more correctly the neighbors next door, are just too much.  They are back to two dogs and double the poop.  I’ve included a pic of the amount I’ve picked up in the last three weeks just from our side of the yard.

I guess I’m thinking that if you have the contact info for their land owner and if you felt comfortable with me contacting him, I would like to ask him to take care of the yard problem. I think it is worth a shot, especially considering my kids have to play in this backyard that is just covered in poop. :(

If you don’t think this is the right approach let me know what you think might work. I thought that leaving a mountain of poop by their back door step would give them the hint but they simply don’t seem to care”.

(Landlord/Tenant Legal Sidebar: The above represents notice from my tenant that a condition exists on my property that constitutes, as Texas Property Code terms it, “a threat to the health and safety of an ordinary person”. The average person may read it as a polite request from a frustrated tenant, but experienced landlords will see the red flags and understand that there are legal ramifications if I don’t take immediate steps to address the problem, regardless of who caused it.)

Having attempted to resolve this through conversation with the ManBoy/tenant, and finding him to be a recalcitrant moron unwilling to even admit that his dog’s poop doesn’t belong on my property, and having received no response from the letter sent to the owner, I felt there was no reason to attempt further dialog.

I sent my fence guy to my property the next day and had him simply remove the portion of fence on my side of the property line. This eliminated the existence of the enclosed yard and meant that the dog-owner neighbor would no longer be able to let the dogs out, lest they leave the yard and run off. It’s illegal to chain dogs outside in Austin, so a dog owner has the obligation to provide a fenced yard for the dog, or only let it outside while being walked on a leash.

I also called the City of Austin Health Department, which resulted in a visit the same day and a citation for accumulated dog feces. I even received a call from the health official updating me. He said “yeah, it was a significant amount of accumulation … and lots of flies”. Tell me about it. ManBoy thinks it’s all cool though. I’m the jerk.

Removal of the fence from my side, along with the health violation notice, got the attention of the neighbor/tenant. Starting the same day, I received separate phone calls from his Father, his Fiancee, the ManBoy/tenant himself, and finally his Mother. The content of all these conversations was essentially about their dismay at how unreasonable and rude I am and how a “good” neighbor would have simply offered to pay half for a new fence to divide the yards.

These conversations were truly bizarre, to any normal person. I mean, bizzare might not even be a strong enough word. Here’s an example:

Me: What I want is simple; keep your dogs off my property and pick up your poop. How you accomplish that is up to you and doesn’t involve me.
ManBoy:
The dogs aren’t even mine, they’re my Fiancees’.
Me:
Then tell your Fiancee to keep her dogs off my property and to pick up the poop.
ManBoy:
She’s 6 month’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be out in the heat picking up Poop.
Me:
Then do it for her.
ManBoy:
But they’re not my dogs. I don’t see why you won’t just pay me half the cost to build a new fence. That would solve everything.

The above is just an example snippet of the mindset I was dealing with. Astoundingly stupid, self-absorbed people. Would I have been willing to pay half under different circumstances? Maybe. But I never could, and still can’t, get past the fact that I’d have to be willing to do business with people who think like this and can’t understand much less accept the concepts of responsibility, accountability and responsible pet ownership. Paying for half a fence isn’t going to cure that core problem. It would be no different than giving an alcoholic more booze in exchange for a promise to not act drunk anymore. Sharing the cost, in this particular case, is not something I would consider a good and wise investment, and it was an easy conclusion to arrive at.

The saga resulted, nevertheless, in me agreeing to come look yesterday at where ManBoy staked out his new fence line. He wanted me to “approve” it. A simple glance instantly revealed a crooked (diagonal) line splitting the fence line about 1/3 my side and 2/3 his side, between the units. Clearly off-center and improperly placed. Even a kindergartner could make a straighter line down the middle of two buildings.

“That’s obviously not the middle” I said, thinking silently that the stupidity of this kid knows no bounds. “These side lot lines are 5 foot setbacks, you need to measure it properly and put the fence in the middle”. He wanted instead to attach the fence to the remaining part of the existing fence on his side, which still extended a couple of feet across my lot line. I said “no, build it in the proper location, you can’t have part of my yard inside your fence line”.

I asked him if he smelled the strong stench while we were standing there. Literally, it smells like a pig farm. Not just slightly, but a strong putrid odor of dog shit. The kind of smell that causes a normal person to wince and wave her hand in front of her nose while saying “peeww”. These are Great Dane turds remember, many dozens of them peppering the yard in the hot 100 degree sun. Baking there every day in the hot grass, attracting flies.

Not responding to the smell question, he again started in on how rude it is of me to not pay for half the fence. I calmly listened as this escalated into a full blown verbal assault as I simply kept saying “no, it’s your dog, your fence”. He progressed to shouting, complete with expletives telling me “F… You. Build your own damn fence”. I thanked him for his input, told him I heard what he was saying and that we just don’t agree, and I left.

He followed that encounter up with the following emails:

ManBoy: You are a terrible person. Your mother should be ashamed of herself. I was trying to be a peaceful person this morning but your rudeness has no end, I regret my outburst. But seriously Mr. Crossland, you are a very terrible person. Either build your own fence or pay me both labor and half for the materials to do it. We are out.

My Reply: Thanks for your helpful note. I think you’re making the wrong move here. Since you’ve left the ball in my court, and seem unwilling to take responsibility for your situation, I will be taking the appropriate next steps legally.

I’m sorry you’re not able to see the absurdness of your position and how your failure to be a responsible pet owner and good neighbor has created this entire scenario. I won’t try to convince you further but will instead allow that to happen through the legal system and through City of Austin Code Enforcement.

ManBoy: You shouldnt try to be convincing us to build the fence on our own, it splits our property so we should be splitting the costs. Just split the cost for the materials and ill put up the damn fence. I guarantee you would be saving a lot more money splitting the cost than dealing with lawyers. Be a good neighbor and stop being an asshole.

My Reply: Thanks again for another kind and helpful note. My previous email stands. I’ll allow the authorities to educate and inform you regarding your obligations and responsibilities as a pet owner in the city of Austin.

I next heard from the Mother of the ManBoy, who called to apologize on behalf of her son. He’s under a lot of stress with school work, his job, a pregnant fiancee, and now having this fence issue “thrust” upon him “out of nowhere”, by me.

Incredible. Mom thinks her precious boy does no wrong and, like her son, thinks the only problem is me. If I would simply act right and agree to pay for the fence, all of this strife could be avoided. She was just as incapable as the boy of understanding the basic facts of the case and why I removed the fence from my side of the property. To the Mom, I was just an unreasonable person causing undo stress on her poor, sweet boy, which caused him to lose his composure and curse at me and send nasty emails.

I had previously heard from the Fiancee as well.  She wanted to lodge a complaint that my tenant’s small boys (2 and 4) were allowed to play naked in the back yard. This, she explained, was illegal and prevented her from being able to grill in her back yard with friends, because of the offensive sight of naked little boys frolicking in the grass (the grass from which my tenant had picked up the Fiancee’s dog’s pile of turds pictured above).

This was helpful for me to know. That a 6-month pregnant fiancee of ManBoy feels deprived of her right to relax with friends in her stench-filled back yard – surrounded by dozens, if not 100′s, of human-sized festering dog turds and swarms of flies – and grill up some tasty burgers. I guess I can see how the sight of the young naked boys could completely ruin the carefully established ambiance that the poop, flies and odor provide to the outdoor burger grilling experience. Frankly, I’m suprised a pregnat woman could be exposed to that back yard odor without vomiting.

In case you’re wondering, the conversation with the father was no less absent of reason than the conversations with ManBoy, Mom and the Fiancee. I’m still wondering if I might hear from the Grandparents next.

As it stands, these dog-owner neighbors are either going to start acting like responsible Austin pet owners or I’ll just keep sending City Code Enforcement to the property each week to write citations. If the fence is built improperly or substandard, code enforcement will be sent. If it’s not where it’s suppose to be, it will have to be moved. The dog poop must be picked up and not allowed to accumulate or attract flies. Unfortunately, with some people, anything less than a firm, unbending stance, including involvement of City of Austin Health Department is required. When reason fails, forced compliance becomes the only effective tool.

Scenario #2 – Neighbor Doesn’t like Instant, Free Repair to Fence

On another fence episode this past summer, high winds blew down the fence at a rental home I manage. Tenant reported it to me. I immediately sent my guy to replace two snapped posts and put the fence back up and make sure it’s stable. On small repairs like this, I just get the job done and don’t drag my feet trying to find the neighbor and have discussions. This was less than a $100 repair, not worth the logistics of asking for a shared expense.

The adjoining neighbor called to complain that the the new wood posts and the one new top stringer added doesn’t match the old wood and looks ugly. (her side has the exposed posts and framing). There was no thanks for simply handling it quickly at our own expense. No offer to share the cost. Just complaining. I told her my efforts were complete and that I’m sorry she is unhappy with how it looks, but that new treated lumber looks like that and it will eventually fade and blend in. She said she was going to get a bid to “make it look right”, but I never heard back and it ended there.

Scenario #3 – Petulant Home Owner Angry We Won’t Split Cost on Unneeded New Fence

Finally, last month, owner adjacent to another rental property calls and wants me to split the cost of replacing a 6 year old fence. It was supposedly “falling apart”. I sent my guy, he evaluated the fence, tightened up a couple of spots and replaced one broken picket. He reported back to me “the fence is in really good shape, is stable and isn’t even close to needing replacement”.

I informed the neighboring owner of this and explained that we won’t be doing anything further, that the fence is in good shape and performing as expected.

He responded with an email with photos showing his side of the fence. The photo reveals dog damage on his side from the dogs knawing and scratching and jumping on the fence. In fact, the broken picket we replaced was broken from the other side by the dog, as indicated by the manner, height and direction from which the slat was split.

The photos also reveal that his mal-adjusted sprinklers were soaking the fence, as evidenced by the arc-shaped degraded and faded areas where the water sprays directly on the fence. His side does visibly look worse than ours, but it’s because of his dogs and his sprinkler. I explained that to him and advised that he should keep his dogs away from and off the fence and adjust the sprinklers to prevent further deterioration of his side of the fence.

His email response:

“I have all the evidence I need to provide efficient information to ensure you take responsibility for your property. I don’t need or asked for your opinion, just fix what is clearly your responsibility and in a timely manner. I will take whatever action is necessary to ensure it happens.

Now you say that it’s my fault. I don’t think making excuses or coming up with theories of the dog and sprinklers being the cause. I’ve been willing to work with you but now I will make sure you fix your own problems.”

I didn’t respond. I did notify my client (the owner of that property) that if he hears from a concerned neighbor regarding my unwillingness to spend my owner’s money to replace a perfectly good fence, just refer him back to me and I’ll handle it. The owner was perplexed as well, having occupied the home not long ago and knowing the fence is in really good shape.

Conclusion

For those lucky enough to rarely encounter unreasonable people and situations like these, count yourself lucky. Those of us in Real Estate and Property Management in Austin have interface with hundreds of strangers every year under all sorts of scenarios. We have to learn to set boundaries with others and make decisions about things. Learn when to stand ground and when to give in. When to be flexible and reasonable and when to go hard core straight by the rules and law with no give at all.

Fences create these scenarios more than any other issue. Trees are right up there also, when they are on property lines and/or have branches hanging over, but fences have much less of an easy outcome than trees, and there are clear laws controlling trees whereas fences are, unless in volation of code, mostly a neighbor-to-neighbor issue.

If you’re a home owner with a fence, you have to have the proper mindset and expectations, depending on which side of the equation (or yard) you’re operating from. Splitting things 50/50 is what happens in an ideal world, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Fences are highly subjective with regard to appearance and condition. One neighbor’s “needs replacing” might be another’s “looks great and has plenty of useful life remaining”. Fences are subject to dogs abusing them, digging under them, kids throwing balls against them, climbing and breaking them, trees falling on them, blowing down in high wind, water damage from sprinklers, posts snapping off, boards curling, nails popping, and just plain aging and falling apart.

If you want a new fence real bad and your neighbor doesn’t, then you buy yourself a new fence and move on.

The burden of cost  falls primarily on the person with the greatest need or motivation. No neighbor can force another neighbor to pay anything whatsoever. The law isn’t set up that way. This truly is one of those “reasonable people will work it out” things in life. If you build a new fence at your own expense, then think you can bill the neighbor half the cost and sue in Small Claims Court if they refuse to pay, you will lose. Your neighbor’s obligation to participate financially in your new fence simply does not exist.

In the ManBoy scenario above,  had the owner approached me at the beginning, prior to obtaining a dog, and said:

“We’re thinking about getting a dog. Obviously we can’t have it running loose in your back yard and crapping in your grass, so we’re going to build a fence before we get the dog so we can provide it with its own private yard. Are you interested in participating in the design and cost of the fence? If not, we’ll take care of it on our own since it’s us who wants a dog and we know you never rent to tenants with dogs, but we just wanted to see if you’re interested anyway”.

Under that scenario, the neighbor would have found me to be an extremely reasonable and willing neighbor, ready to work out a fair deal. I love making win/win deals. I like to make improvements to my properties. I would have shared in the cost. I was never given that opportunity though, to come to a reasonable agreement with reasonable people. Thus, plan B ensued.

If you want to build a fence, give your neighbor a chance to help, but don’t act bitter or offended if they don’t. Life isn’t fair. I explain that to my kids constantly. Life doesn’t owe you fairness. Take responsibility for what you want and don’t expect others to act in your best interest. In the end, what comes around goes around. If I want to build a new fence at a property I own and my neighbor doesn’t want (or maybe can’t afford) to help, it’s ok. Not a problem. My expectation is already that I’ll pay the entire cost if I really want the fence. Something good will come my way in some other way in life, and it all balances out in the end.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon Meyers September 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Wow, that first story was pretty interesting, keep us updated as to how that turns out.

2 General Interest Reader September 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

Great post. We did the very thing you mentioned in the article this past spring: wanted a privacy fence to replace the chain link, so figured out how to get it done. We knew haggling with the neighbors would be silly and a waste of time. Luckily, everyone kept their dogs indoors on the day of installation. No fuss, no muss.

Your stories are appalling and, yet, so entertaining! Thanks for posts like these to remind the sane to keep their wits about them.

3 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX September 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

Hi Shannon, yes I’ll post and updates. The posts were partially installed yesterday.

Thanks GIR. Your approach is how a lot of people do it.
Steve

4 Chris Bradford September 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

LOL. This is why you, rather than I, manage my rental.

5 Michael @ The Stage Coach September 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

All I can say, Steve: That’s the longest and most entertaining blog of yours that I have read. You can pick your nose… pick your friends… but you can’t pick your neighbors.

6 Tanner October 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Let me start by saying that I agree that you are in the right with the first situation (I didn’t read the other two).

But I get the strong feeling that you might have been able to handle it a little better and had a more fruitful outcome with fewer headaches. No doubt the neighbor is being a pain and not taking care of his business. But have you read back over what you wrote? The entire post has an over-the-top negative tone about the entire situation. I’d bet anything that you also had a hostile/negative tone when dealing with this neighbor in person.

I imagine being patient with what you describe is difficult at best. But based on your post (and dozens of past ones) it certainly seems your personality leans toward the negative side, or maybe it just does when it comes to real estate matters.

I can’t imagine that type of attitude helps you get what you want. I can certainly see a situation where the outcome would be different and be less of a hassle than it was bringing a hostile/negative humor to the table.

Yes, you’d have to resist the urge to prove that you are right, but if you wanted to have the neighbor take care of the dog and fence at no cost of you and with fewer headaches, I’m betting it would have been a better route.

7 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 3, 2011 at 8:05 am

Hi Tanner,

Your points are well taken. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, since starting the Crossland Blog over 6 years ago, that the writing tone can come across as harsh or abrasive. I’m actually easy to deal with and pretty low key in person. But I’m aware of the writing tone and appreciate the reminders.

On the other hand, real estate blogs that are all about “puppy dogs and butterflies” don’t attract readership or followers, so it’s a balance to keep it interesting and edgy without being offensive and rude. I’m not sure I always succeed in finding that balance.

Steve

8 David October 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

Hi Steve,

Steve: You started off by saying “reasonable neighbors work it out and get it done, sharing materials and labor in a way agreeable to both”, but then the story turned into a standoff with you refusing to pay for half because of the meltdown in relations. What am I supposed to learn about dealing with neighbors from that? What about your tenant, who appears to be stuck in the middle of this standoff, and your professional obligation to them?

9 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

Hi David,

I think it was explained why the party (entire family really) involved was a counterparty with whom a reasonable outcome could NOT be achieved. And I explained the way it could have been achieved from the start had they acted like responsible pet owners and neighbors from the start. So, I guess what you’re suppose to learn is what I said – know when you can be flexible and work with people, and know when you can’t.

With regard to my tenant, that too was something I took care of in the fastest way possible with the most predictable outcome. The dogs were no longer in her yard, problem solved.

I’m not getting what you think I should have done differently and at what stage, unless, when told by the neighbor, “pay me to build a fence or my dog keeps crapping in your yard” I should have just said “ok” and paid him.

Steve

10 bigmouth October 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Assuming you agreed to pay half of the fence and asked the ManBoy’s family to allow you to supervise the project, why do you think it is not going to resolve the issue though? I am not following the logic here. To compare that to giving alcoholic more booze is not a good analogy. The problem is dog roaming into this side of fence. The solution is a fence. If I am your tenet, I would much rather you step up and get the fence up at all cost – regardless the Manboy family get reformed or not (it will never happen). Sending authorities will only escalate the tension, and the Manboy’s family will likely dump their anger to the tenant’s family. That is not a good business strategy.

11 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX October 6, 2011 at 7:42 am

UPDATE: Fence was built by the neighbor and looks ok. No further drama or communication. My tenant can now use her back yard without stepping over neighbor’s dog dung.

Steve

12 Chris @ Greater Austin Homes October 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I have a friend that lives in Hutto. His entire subdivision has probably the most cheaply built fences i have ever seen which are ALL falling down. After contacting his neighbors on both sides to see if they wanted to split the cost of replacing the fence and them both telling him they didn’t care to put the money in to it… He just replaced it all himself on his own dime. It’s a shame that not everyone has the pride of ownership it takes to at least keep your property looking presentable (not having ropes tied to stakes holding your fence up) from the exterior.

13 Bethany November 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

Another thing to keep in mind if you are going to build a fence, make sure you are 100% sure that it falls on the property line. I know a woman who laid the fence 4in too far into her neighbors yard and it instantly became a huge battle. In the end, the woman had to remove and rebuild her fence on the correct line. It was only a minor mistake but it ended up costing her thousands of dollars!

14 Daren Phillipy November 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

Steve. Great blog post. I guess you never know the pains of a bad neighbor until you have one. I love the stories. I mean, how can you go wrong with a story with dog poop in it. Thanks for the entertainment. and ps. Great blog. Your are a great writer. Daren

15 John January 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm

My house has shared boundary fences in the backyard and within 2 weeks of purchase one of my neighbors asked if it was ok to replace our shared portion. I thought he was asking me to see if I would cover half the cost, which I would have been happy to do, but when I offered money, he declined the offer and said that he was just asking to see if it was okay with me to have workers in my back yard to put up the fence. He’s been a great neighbor over the last five years and we help each other out from time to time with projects, loaning tools, etc. My neighbor on the other side however, well that fence has never been replaced. I had been planning on replacing the fence on that side for awhile as it was leaning in spots, but still functional. Then we got some high winds and two sections fell into my neighbor’s yard (the posts are on our side) while I’m at work. This also let my dogs into his yard. Instead of the normal good neighbor thing here in which they contact me and we work something out, they immediately call animal control and have my dogs taken to the pound even though I had a friend visiting at the time who was at the house and who brought the dogs into the house before animal control arrived. Anyway, I end up getting a call from my friend, who, due to the large amount of complaining from the neighbor, has been threatened with either a rather hefty ticket for leash law violations as the dogs were technically under his care at the time or having the dogs carted off to the Town Lake shelter. I get the dogs back the same day and do a temporary repair on the fence to keep it up pending conversations with my neighbors. At this point though, I’m so angry that they wouldn’t even bother to phone me or knock on the door and talk to my friend that I figure, I’ll repair and maintain that section of the fence in the most minimal and or ugly way to keep it functional until they ask for my assistance in replacing it. In the meantime, I replaced the two side fence sections and made them look really nice. I would have done the same for the back fence, but it’s in really good condition anyway. Now, I’m looking to sell the house and my jerkish stance is coming back to bite me as I now need to replace that ugly fence to sell the house. Not sure what I’m going to do, but I’d much rather put money into the new house than this one and I doubt my neighbors will be very willing to help. What would you do in this situation?

16 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX January 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

> What would you do in this situation?

Hi John,

If the condition of the fence will hurt the sales effort, I’d go ahead and replace it. If not, I’d patch as needed and invest the money in other areas of the home that are more important to buyers. I’ve never seen a buyer turn down a great house over a bad fence, and I’ve never seen a new fence sway a buyer toward a house they didn’t really like. So focus on the house itself and the curb appeal.

You can always be willing to let the buyer negotiate an amount for the fence repair/replacement into the sales price, then, even if you do end up paying for some or all of it, you avoid the actual project and don’t have to interface with your neighbor.

Good Luck,

Steve

17 Gayle April 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I really do not want a problem between my neighbor and I, but it seems a miscommunication has created some hard feelings on both of our parts. We both bought homes and moved in about the same time last year. I inspected my builders fence, it being eight years old and found most of the posts were never set in concrete and were rotting. The fence wobbled pretty bad. I got an estimate for a new fence. Then the wind blew over the boundary fence between us. They came over and knocked on the door, wondering if I had seen it. Yes, and I told them I already had an estimate. They said, OK, just let us know how much.

Fast forward. I had the fence replaced, and when I let them know how much their part was for the shared section, they said they weren’t going to pay it at all. The reason is they thought I was going to repair it, I was not clear I was replacing it, and I didn’t tell them before the fence went in, and I replaced my whole fence so they think they shouldn’t pay anything.

I emailed them and asked them what they thought would be reasonable, and never heard back. Instead, I look out my window and see a rope tied from their old falling down gate to the posts on the new boundary fence. I have emailed asking them to please remove the rope from the fence, my concern being that it might void my one year warranty.

If they can’t afford it, I don’t begrudge them of that, but they did offer and then reneged. Haven’t shared one penny of cost.

What would you do in this situation? I was thinking if they don’t respond by removing the rope in about a week, I would remove it from the new section, while standing on my property. Would that make matters worse?

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