The old adage "Good fences make good neighbors" generally alludes to the reality that setting physical and psychological boundaries with the people who live near you is an excellent way to keep the peace in your part of the neighborhood. However, fences themselves can quickly become a bone of contention between you and your neighbor if the structure separating your homes is rotting, ugly, or otherwise problematic. Here are a few tips for getting your neighbor to repair or replace a broken or ugly fence.
Offer To Pay Part Of The Cost
The first thing you should do is speak to your neighbor about the situation, particularly if you want to maintain a good relationship with the person (or people). This will allow you to find out why they may not be willing to fix or replace the fence. If you're neighbor's primary reason for not taking care of the fence is cost, you can offer to help pay for the project.
In fact, you may be required to pay for some of the cost if the fence rests on the dividing line between your property and the fence in your yard connects to it. In either case, offering to chip in can motivate your neighbor to finally take action. Additionally, the money you pay may also buy you a say in the type of fencing that's installed, which is a good thing if you want to make sure the fence serves both of your needs.
Enlist The Help Of A Mediator
Sometimes money isn't the reason why a neighbor refuses to take care of their ugly or broken fence. The person may have a grudge against you and see the fence as a way of getting back at you for whatever offense you committed against them. Another cause of fence disputes is the location of the structure. Your neighbor may want to move the fence to the border between your properties (which would make you jointly responsible for it) or they may feel the fence has caused them to lose property to you because of an erroneous land survey.
If you're not able to work out these issues with your neighbor, it's a good idea to enlist the help of a neutral third party such as a mediator. Mediators are basically referees who listen to the concerns of both parties and then attempt to find a solution that meets the needs of all involved.
The primary benefit of using a mediator is that the agreements made during the process do not preclude legal action. So if your neighbor decides to not follow through on their part of the bargain, you can still take the person to court to force the issue. However, you may want to use the threat of a lawsuit as a last resort measure, as legal actions tend to sour relationships.
Enlist The Help Of The City Or HOA
If your neighbor resists all of your attempts to get them to take care of their fence or refuses to even discuss the matter with you, you may be able to get the city or homeowners' association (HOA) to step in and take care of the situation.
Cities and HOAs typically have ordinances that regulate fencing on residential properties. If the fence is violating any of the ordinances, then notifying the appropriate agency will usually result in a notice being sent to your neighbor to correct the problem, which could lead to your neighbor finally taking care of the fence issue. Be aware, though, that getting officials involved could make things unpleasant between you and your neighbor, so be prepared to bake lots of goodwill cookies.
For more tips on working with neighbors on a fencing problem or information about custom fencing options, contact a fencing contractor like York Fence.