When a neighbor damages your fence you could easily find yourself in the grip of a very frustrating situation. You want your fence repaired as quickly as possible, and you rightly do not feel like you should have to take on the additional financial burden of fixing the results of someone else’s carelessness.
We’ve heard of all sorts of creative stories. Neighbors have damaged fences by getting careless with riding mowers, by draping wet laundry over fences, causing water damage, by piling wet soil onto the ground on their side of the fence to plant flowers, only to rot the boards.
We’ve seen neighboring dogs damaging fences and neighboring trees too.
While we can’t give you legal advice we can tell you that there are laws that give you some recourse if you neighbor is damaging your fence. Of course, the first step is to talk to your neighbor about the problem.
The damage could have been accidental, or they just might not have given it any thought. If the fence is on or near the property line, for example, the neighbor might have assumed that he had the right to use the fence as he or she saw fit.
Indeed, if a fence is on or near the property line it can sometimes be counted as a “boundary” fence, which means you and your neighbor share ownership of the fence – and equal responsibility for its care and maintenance. This can greatly confuse the issue of both using and repairing the fence.
This is one reason why knowing your property lines is so important when you build a fence. It gives you the option to build inside of your property lines, thus making the fence wholly “yours” and avoiding disputes about who pays for what – and making your case stronger should your neighbor decide to touch or damage your fence in any way.
If the neighbor decides that he or she is not in the mood to be helpful and reasonable then there are some steps you can take. First, you should take the time to document each incident.
That means documenting each time you talk to the neighbor to address the problem. It also means documenting each damage incident.
It’s not a bad idea to take pictures of the damage. And you should get some estimates on repairs from a qualified fence company, since you may well need a concrete number to work with.
Contact a lawyer and turn this documentation over to him or her. Don’t be afraid to exercise this right!
If a neighbor has damaged your fence and it’s in need of repair, please give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to give you a free estimate. We’ve helped homeowners in Whitefish Bay, Glendale, and the rest of the Milwaukee metro area repair their fences and we can do the same for you too!