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Who is going to fix the fence?

Date posted: 2/27/2013

The high winds that we have experienced this week have wreaked havoc on many of the fences in Block House Creek. Those who are faced with having to quickly repair or replace all or part of a shared fence may have a number of questions. How does a homeowner know if the fence is on their property or on the neighbor's? Is the cost of repairing or replacing a shared fence a shared responsibility? Who gets the "pretty" side of the fence?

Unless the fence sits entirely on one property or the other, the presumption is that the maintenance of the shared fence is a shared responsibility and obligation. The only way to know for sure whether the fence is entirely on one property is to have a survey done, which would cost as much or nearly as much as it would to replace the fence.

It is a common misperception that the owner whose property has the "pretty" side—the side with the pickets—is the owner of the fence. It is more likely that when the subdivision was under construction, the house that sold first got the "pretty" side. Sometimes, when one homeowner pays for replacement and the neighbor does not participate in the replacement cost, the pickets face the yard of the person paying for the fence. Which side has the pickets and which side has the posts is not an indicator of who "owns" the fence or who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Typically, when one homeowner is unwilling to participate in the repair or replacement of shared fences, the homeowner to whom it matters usually bears the financial burden. In situations where the issue of shared cost cannot be resolved, some homeowners have taken the matter to small claims court.

Homeowners may find that their insurance company has a different answer.

Please note: The guidelines provided for you here should not be construed as legal advice.

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