Buying A Home
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Neighbor responsible for fixing/replacing fence won't...

Ok, so today I found out the house we are in negotiations on needs a new back wooden fence.  It backs up to a greenbelt so the back fence is metal and is fine; it is the 2 wooden shared fences between the neighbors on each side that are the problem.

So in part of the negotiations I asked that they (current owner of the house I want to buy) to replace the wooden fence in the backyard.... they said they were only responsible for the fence on the right (which is in pretty good shape and only needs a couple of boards replaced) and the other neighbor is responsible for the fence that is basically in need of replacement (ie: posts are rotted out and fence is falling down/leaning and board along bottom are rotting off/breaking).

So my question is... will I basically have to pay and replace it myself since the neighbor won't take responsibility? And how do I go about telling them?  I was told it is a rental and has been rented out for a couple of years.  Otherwise the house is well maintained on the outside/yard has sprinkler system etc. So technically the owner doesn't even live there.  It is a small fence only about 2- 6 ft/ wooden panels and a few posts so costs shouldn't be a concern for me but I don't want my small dog escaping or having the fence fall on her.

 

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Re: Neighbor responsible for fixing/replacing fence won't...

  • it's really up to you to decide how big of an issue you want to make this. ?the current owner of the house you want to purchase has already told you that they want to sell as-is. ?You can ask them to contact the owner of the property who is "responsible" for the fence, but you may put your contract in jeopardy by doing so. ?You can try contacting the owner directly (maybe you will need to contact the tenant first). ?Or, you can just suck it up and buy the new fence that you want after you purchase the property.
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  • Is there a HOA? If so, I would contact them. Is there enough room to leave room between the two and put a new fence row further onto your property? I would put a fence up just for myself before I would fix "theirs". I'm a country girl though, so I'm not sure how city fences, etc. work...
  • There is an HOA so I guess I will find out more information when we get a copy of the bylaws, but I just want to be prepared and wondered if others have encountered this shared fence problem. 

    I did see some neighborhoods where it appeared to be a shared fence standoff where some neighbors would just wait until their neighbor paid for it so they didn't have too... althought most of those neighborhoods don't have home owners associations.

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  • This is really up to the owner of the property.  You will have to seek out the landlord to discuss the issue with them since you can't do anything to their property without their consent.  You may be able to look into your city's Code Enforcement Department to see if there would be a way that they would determine the fence unsafe to get a replacement.  This could really start you out on the "wrong foot" with a neighbor even if they don't live there. 
  • We had this situation with our neighbors.  My DH has owned our home for 15 years, The next door neighbors have lived there 10.  During this time they have done nothing to maintain the fence.  And their beasty little kid has actually broken slats- to let out our dogs.

    So I being the *** that I can be when you endanger my family (I include my beagles as my family) I aproached them- they did nothing- I gave them 2 weeks while Dh and I went down the fence making sure that slats were not falling off.  The fence looked horrible on our side and the back side was leaning on that owner's fence.  It was really bad.  So after no action on their part I called our village code enforcement officer (we have no HOA but our village's code enforcement is stong on the important points)   Code enforcement came out told them to repair or replace and gave them 1 week- then they would start fining.

    So end of story is that there is a new fence and it only took 2 weeks after code enforcement got involved.

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  • What the sellers are really saying is that the crappy fence is owned by the neighbor and they're not willing (or able) to replace it.  Research to be sure you can put up a fence on your OWN property, get a few bids to put up a fence a few inches away from the existing fence, and ask for that much off the sale price from the sellers.

    FYI if you know that the neighbors are a little difficult with stuff like this, I would make sure to get some sort of paperwork showing exactly where your property begins and ends before this sale goes through.
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  • image chickaboo1974:

    We had this situation with our neighbors.  My DH has owned our home for 15 years, The next door neighbors have lived there 10.  During this time they have done nothing to maintain the fence.  And their beasty little kid has actually broken slats- to let out our dogs.

    So I being the *** that I can be when you endanger my family (I include my beagles as my family) I aproached them- they did nothing- I gave them 2 weeks while Dh and I went down the fence making sure that slats were not falling off.  The fence looked horrible on our side and the back side was leaning on that owner's fence.  It was really bad.  So after no action on their part I called our village code enforcement officer (we have no HOA but our village's code enforcement is stong on the important points)   Code enforcement came out told them to repair or replace and gave them 1 week- then they would start fining.

    So end of story is that there is a new fence and it only took 2 weeks after code enforcement got involved.

    This is how things work with a HOA.  Ask the sellers to get in touch with the HOA now so that it is taken care of.  It will have to be discussed at the meeting and then letters will have to be sent.  If you wait until you move in to get it started it will just take a lot longer.  Chances are it will take 1-2 months to get it fixed.  

    If they don't fix it the HOA has the right (in most developments) to fix the damaged fence and then charge the home owner the cost of fixing it.

    I would not put up a fence that is next to this falling down fence.  You will need HOA approval for a new fence and then you have to consider how to maintain the lawn between the new and old fence.  If you put up a new fence it will make things way more complicated.

    This is one of the reasons that I like HOA's so much.  Yeah, you have to pay the monthly fee, but it takes care of issues like this.

  • I always heard that whoever has the "pretty" side is technically responsible for the fence.   However, after Hurrican Ike, we repaired "our" fence and the neighbor never did anything.  I called our HOA and I was told that legally, the fence is shared and it is up to the two home owners to figure out how it would get fixed.  We have a great HOA but they did not get involved.  Ultimately, we replaced the fence and the only upside is that you get the pretty side.  Big sucky neighbor (he's a cop)!  However, we sold our house and move in two weeks.  Stick out tongue
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