Sometimes when a fence is built it is located right on the property line. This means that both neighbors own the fence and both can use the fence.
When you share a boundary fence, however, you don’t just share the use of the fence. You also share a portion of the responsibility for the care and upkeep of that fence.
In a best-case scenario, you and your neighbor would get along well and would be able to come to some agreement on how you will meet these shared responsibilities. If you bought your property only to find out you share a boundary fence then it’s a good idea to foster that relationship well before there are any problems.
However, a good relationship doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements. You might disagree over whether or not the fence needs repairs or on what repairs are appropriate. You might also have differences in your finances which make it difficult for both of you to participate equally in the fence’s upkeep.
If the neighbor won’t help, you generally do still have a few options. First, you can maintain the boundary fence yourself to keep the peace, especially if it is part of your overall fence system.
After all, you will still want to protect your own property. It makes little sense to let one side of your fence fall apart just because your neighbor doesn’t want to cooperate.
If you’re dead set on making your neighbor help you then you’ll probably need to contact a real estate attorney. The lawyer might advise you to do several things, including sending letters to your neighbor and taking photographs of the state of the fence.
The lawyer might also advise you to maintain the fence yourself, keeping the receipts. The attorney might then seek reimbursement on your behalf.
You might also be advised to get help from a “fence viewer.” These professionals inspect the boundary fence to decide who owes what. In Wisconsin their assessment is usually legally binding unless you challenge their decision in court.
Above all, keep your head. Don’t allow your frustrations to turn into a long-term war with your neighbor.
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I share a boundary fence with my neighbor behind me. We both paid for the fence to be installed (I think his son did it) but it is falling into my yard due to the landscape dirt and a lot of rocks my neighbor put in his yard up against the fence. I live in Puyallup Wa, can you suggest who I contact regarding the responsibility of repairing the fence?