Fences often lie at the center of disputes between neighbors. It might be over the color, shape, or size. Perhaps they want a dividing structure between your homes, but you do not agree to this. If this happens to you, you may be confused and irritated. You might wonder if your neighbor can force you to pay for this dividing line.
In most states, your neighbor cannot make you pay for the fence if it is solely their fence. The moment you begin to use it as part of your property, you must pay for it and do your part to maintain it. Rules and regulations can, however, vary between city and state.
If you are currently in dispute with a neighbor over their fence, you should know your rights. Read on to learn more about whether your neighbor can make you pay for a fence. You will want to know specifics if you are faced with this situation. You should have enough knowledge on the subject to understand what to do if this situation ever arises in your neighborhood.
Do I Need to Pay for My Neighbor’s Fence?
In most states, the construction, maintenance, and payment of a fence do not need to be divided up between neighbors. It is allowed, but it is not required. Issues may arise if the neighbors do not communicate about this matter, however.
Laws are different in every area. If your neighbor asks you to assist in paying for the fence that they intend to construct, you should:
- Check your state fence laws
- Check to see if your neighborhood has any regulations
- Communicate how you feel about the matter
There are certain states and communities in which it may be a requirement for you to pay for the fence. It is critical to do your research in case your neighbor is hard to handle. You should avoid any unnecessary legal battles that could come your way if you get the laws wrong.
California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law
The California Good Neighbor Fence Law is an excellent example of enforcement in a state that will require you to pay for a fence. This law was put into action in 2013, and it holds both good and bad inside of it.
According to this law, two adjoining neighbors:
- Are assumed to get the same benefit from a french that is installed
- Are equally responsible for all expenses and such that have to do with the fence
This can only be changed if the two neighbors create a written agreement giving one full custody of the fence. If you live in California, keep this in mind if you are interacting with a neighbor about this matter. Unless you have signed proof, you are in charge of paying for half of the fence.
Written Request from a Neighbor
In many other states, your neighbor is required to write you both a letter of notice and a request if they want you to pay for half of the fence. You then generally have around three weeks to respond to them.
In response, you can:
- Deny the request to build a fence
- Deny the request for you to pay for half of the fence
- Agree and pay for your half of the fence
If they took the time to write you a letter, chances are they are an agreeable person. It is often easiest in these situations to agree, but they cannot legally force you to pay for the fence. It is up to you to decide what the best option for you and the future of your home space will be.
What Is the Exact Location of the Fence?
The location of the fence is important in terms of payment. If it is on your property, it is yours. If it is on their property, it is theirs. If it falls on the property line, legally it belongs to both of you.
If your neighbor is building a fence, ensure that they are not placing it on the property line. This would place half of the cost and responsibility of repairs and replacements on you since the property line belongs to you and your neighbor.
In the worst-case scenario, your neighbor could:
- Sue you for your half of the fence
- Sue you for damage repair
The property line is a critical dividing point. Know it and be familiar with it so that you can avoid any legal situations where your neighbor might be able to force money. These can get nasty and ruin relationships forever.
How Do I Find My Property Line?
To ensure that you will not have to pay for the fence due to the property line, you need to locate this space between the two homes. However, many homeowners are unsure of where this line falls and how to find out where it is if they do not know.
Your home’s property line can be found:
- On the title documents that came with your home when you purchased it
- By calling a licensed land surveyor or civil engineer
- By visiting a local recorder or assessor’s office
Once you know where the lines are, you can be confident in the distinction between your property and their property. If any conflicts arise, you can be sure to fall back on this information to avoid your neighbor reserving the right to make you pay for the fence.
The property line is something you should know about regardless. It can help in a variety of property issues, from trees to cars to flower bushes. Every single property has this boundary, and it is permanently and invisibly engrained.
Paying for Neighbor’s Fence Damages
There is another instance where a neighbor can make you pay for a fence. This is in the case of property damage. If you do something that destroys their fence, you may be held responsible for funding the payments that will be required to fix the dividing line.
Damage to the fence might be caused by:
- Your car, if you slip up and turn into their fence
- A tree that has grown too large on your property
- A pet that you have at home
If it is an accident and your neighbor is compassionate, you can always come to a verbal understanding with them rather than paying. They do not have to make you pay. However, if you damage their property the kind thing to do is pay them back for what they have lost. It does not become your fence after this, even when you pay.
The most important thing to remember is to avoid aggressive conflict. The kinder you are, the more understanding folks tend to be. The more understanding they are, the less likely you are to have conflicts that will result in wasting your money in the future.
In general, your neighbor cannot make you pay for the fence. There are a few exceptions to this, including fences that fall on the property line and the California Good Neighbor Fence Law. If you cause damage, you can be held responsible as well. However, most disputes can be settled by a conversation and a handshake.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where your neighbor claims you must pay, chances are that they are bluffing. In most cases, you do not need to pay for the fence unless you have legally agreed to it. Do the proper research to ensure that you know your rights when it comes to matters involving your money.