Sometime between signing the contract for buying my house and closing, the
6' privacy fence separating my yard and the next door neighbor's yard
completely fell down (and was removed from the property). The previous owner
and the neighbor figured out that the fence was owned by my neighbor, who
submitted it to her insurance and was reimbursed.
I thought that there wouldn't be any problems, and didn't talk to my lawyer
about it before closing, which I am now thinking was a mistake.
I had been thinking that the fence would be replaced "soon" as the neighbor
keeps on insisting. However, it is now over two months since we closed on
the house, and "soon" doesn't seem to come.
The problem is that I have a pool, so I need a fence for liability purposes.
The neighbor's yard is completely fenced, except for between our properties)
so this hasn't been such a concern. But in recent days, she has had a large
number of children at her house in the afternoons (she is a school teacher,
so I'm guessing she's running some summer daycare thing.) So, I am suddenly
I am thinking that she's hoping that I'll rebuild the fence, so she can
pocket the insurance money and still have a fence. But if I have to build a
fence, the only thing I can afford is one of those orange plastic ones,
after buying this house.
This seems to be a very complicated situation, and I'm really unsure of how
to precede. What are the laws on this sort of thing?
Well, your neighbor is smart -- she knows you're screwed and MUST have a
fence. It's only a matter of time before there's a) a complaint, b) a
The rules are generally that fences ON a property line are 50% owned by
either owner. If a fence is WITHIN your property it's 100% your
responsibility, and subject to setback rules and the like.
Assuming you weren't hoping you could get off scot free yourself with
your neighbor putting up a new fence (but that's what it sounds like),
your next step is to sound out your neighbor on a 50/50 split. She'll
probably say no, since she doesn't HAVE to have a fence, and YOU do.
Failing that, your best bet is to find out what your neighbor absolutely
hates in a fence (orange mesh, perhaps?) and put that up until she gives
in to the split. Otherwise, eventually you're going to be stuck with the
whole cost of a fence.
look on the survey plan of the house.. you should have gotten one when
you bought the house.. if the fence was on her property then its her
fence and the location of the fence will be shown when they did the
survey and will show if a portion of it or any part of it was on your
property.... if it was on her property then you cant force someone to
put up a fence, but the county, city or where you live can force you to
put up a fence due to the pool in the yard.. in my area you need a 7 ft
fence with a pool in the yard... you might just want to put up a fence
just around the pool to cover yourself???? if the neighbor just wanted
to take it down and it was on their property they can do that..........
Your neighbor might have a problem with fraud where her insurance company is
concerned. They paid for the fence and she didn't replace it. In the very
least, her insurance has the right to put a restrictive rider on her policy
regarding the fence.
Tell her since you just moved there, you're needing to change insurance
companies and ask if she would recommend her own. When she does, contact
them and report her ass to them. She'll either end up replacing the fence
or having a rider put on her property with no reduction in premiums.
As was already pointed out, if the fence was on the property line, in
general, it's a 50-50 responsibility. If it's on the neighbor's
property, then it's generally up to the neighbor, whether to replace
it or not.
I'd go to the municipality and inquire about any ordinances covering
fences. You'll need to do this anyway if you have to put up your own
to find out about any special setback requirements, etc. I'd also get
out the sales contract for the property and read it for any
requirements on the seller, like the property must be in compliance
with all codes, etc. If it has that kind of clause, then you have
recourse against the seller.
And here's a good question, when did the seller get a certificate of
occupancy? This is typically required as part of the sales process.
Was the fence already down? If it was, it's hard to imagine how they
could have gotten a CO. If it came down after, I think you have an
excellent case against the seller, to pay for a fence, if you wind up
having to do it yourself. After getting all the facts you can, I'd
contact your lawyer, as he should give you an opinion for free, since
he handled the sale.
Once you know where you stand, I'd try to work with the neighbor,
explaining your problem and asking what it takes to get them to do it
quickly. If that doesn't work, then you'll have to put up a fence
yourself. I'd make sure something is done immeadiately to secure the
pool, ie keep it covered, etc.
Sounds like she is going to have to go at least 50/50 on the fence. If I was
the neighbor I would know there was a law about fencing in a pool and I
wouldn't put up 100% of the cost of a fence. If they don't want to put up
another fence and they have no pool there is nothing to force them to
rebuild it. You may have a case against the seller of the house to you but
that is it.
Why would this be so?
The neighbor does not have a pool, so they have no obligation to have a
fence. The OP has a pool, and there fore needs a fence. Why is it the
neighbors problem? Or even 50% their problem?
The only choices available to the OP are paying 100% for a fence he
*must* have, or *possibly* getting the neighbor to go 50/50 on a
property-line fence. Hence, "at least 50/50". Nobody here is requiring
the neighbor to do anything; the OP can, however, ask.
Thanks for making my point a little clearer. Somebody called the neighbor
with the felled fence a "Neighbor From Hell" earlier. In my mind she(they)
haven't done anything to be called such a thing. It is their right to put
the fence back up or not. The people with the pool are obligated to have a
fence. If it is going to break the bank maybe they should have read a Dave
Ramsey book first. lol
The insurance company paid for the loss -- the old fence. Why would it
matter if the fence was replaced? When someone ran into the back of my
old truck and did $1000 worth of damage, their insurance company wrote
me a big check. I spent about $40 to replace the bumper and pocketed
the rest. The truck was worth quite a bit less now, but that was OK
because I was compensated for it.
BTW, the orange plastic fence sounds lovely. :-) The neighbor will hate
it. She will put her own fence back up to hide it, and OP can take the
plastic fence down. Or at least OP will be in a better position to
negotiate splitting the cost of a real fence right on the line.
IIRC (it was several years ago now), my auto insurance company sent me a
check for the estimated cost of repair less the $500 deductible, plus
paperwork for the repairer to fill out and return to the insurance co.
to prove that the repair was carried out. I didn't bother getting the
repair done, but my understanding is that if I had had another claim,
the amount of the first check (plus the deductible on the new claim)
would have been deducted from any settlement amount. We've since moved
to another state and have a different insurance co., so I don't know
what happens in the case of a future claim -- I am sure the companies
On 06/07/04 11:52 am zxcvbob put fingers to keyboard and launched the
following message into cyberspace:
Your pool, your responsibility to provide a fence to protect it. In
most areas you are required to provide a fence. It's not your neighbors
responsibility. In all cases it would be very wise to have that fence as
the possible legal and moral problems in the event of an accident are
It seems it was determined that the fence was not yours to begin with.
So you need your own fence. I would not suggest repairing the existing one
as it is not yours.
Contact a local attorney to determine what your responsibility are and
drain or otherwise protect the pool until the problem is resolved.
In Florida, even a drained pool must be fenced off. Most insurers won't
touch you unless it's fenced, and if they find out after the fact that a
fence is gone, they'll cancel. In South Florida, major insurers are forcing
homeowners to remove slides and diving boards in order to get coverage, or
they end up with a rider of no liability for the pool and any accidents
If you're the one with the pool, you need to a fence, and the only way
you're guaranteed one is to have it installed yourself. Don't rely on
others to put you in compliance with local regulations - it's your
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