Author Topic: Fence quandary . . . UPDATE #38  (Read 8106 times)

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jpcher

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Fence quandary . . . UPDATE #38
« on: June 16, 2014, 08:59:11 PM »
I have a fence which is clearly mine, on my property, so I can do whatever I want to do with it, correct?

My 17yr-old 4-ft high wooden fence sides 3 other properties . . . back, right and left.

My back fence has been damaged this past winter due to snow pile-up or wind or who knows what. Truth be told, it doesn't really bother me except for, well, it's kinda . . . ugly. It leans into my property about a foot and it looks clearly damaged, so something needs to be done.

I had a handyman come over (for something else) and asked him to take a look at the fence and suggest repair costs/options. He said two of the posts are broken. He suggested that I call a fencing company, but they would probably try to talk me into getting a whole new fence . . . which I have no budget for, nor do I want to get bids on this project because my summer project this year is getting a new roof.

My other option is to tear it down. I have no need for a fence any more. Dog is gone, kids are grown and white-washing it every other year to keep it pretty is getting tiring.

Back door neighbors have a toddler, so I'm sure they appreciate the fence. The left/right fence in their yard is also other neighbor's fence. So taking my back fence down would cause a hardship on them.

My right side fence . . . I would love to tear down simply because right side neighbors (several owners ago) built their own 6-ft fence so there is a bit of no-man's-land between the two fences that is really difficult to maintain.

My left side neighbors are renters and have a dog. The other two sides of that property (back and further left) have fences from other neighbors. I doubt that the landlord will pay for a new fence here.

I could probably have my fence torn down with very little cost (with a little help from my friends and a bbq ;)) but tearing down my fence would cause my neighbors some hardship.



So, with that being said, what would you do?

Would you approach your neighbors prior to tear-down? What is the best way to do this? Would you ask your back-yard neighbor if he might be interested in repairing the fence? (Cheaper for him.) What about the left side neighbor who is a renter?

I'm really leaning towards tearing down at least two sides of my fence (damaged back and pain-in-the-neck right).



Thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 07:17:10 PM by jpcher »

TootsNYC

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 09:04:26 PM »
First I'd decide how many parts of my fence I'd be willing to leave up. Aesthetics, etc., and whatever else I wanted to factor in.

Then I'd contact the relevant neighbors and say, "I want to tear my whole fence down. I realize this may impact you--will it?"

And if you'd be willing to leave a part of it up for a year or two, then when they say "yes, actually, that's a bummer for me!" you can offer whatever you're willing to offer. "I'd like to be neighborly, so I could delay the tear-down until you're able to find your own solution" or even "I could leave the section on your side of the yard up."

For the side where it's broken, I personally would decide I wanted that part completely out, and I'd just notify that neighbor that I was tearing down that section of the fence.  And the only thing I'd compromise on is that I'd wait a few weeks longer than my plan, but only that long. Because it looks crummy.

Lynn2000

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 09:26:00 PM »
POD to TootsNYC. If it's my fence, my first consideration would be my own needs/wants.

I think it would be neighborly to then go to the neighbors who might be enjoying your fence, and tell them you're tearing it down, and let them think it over. Maybe they offer to give you some money to repair it so it stays up. Maybe they ask that you wait a few weeks, until they can get their own fence installed. Maybe they don't care at all.

But, you've given them a chance to comment, which is nice, above and beyond polite, because really you can do whatever you want with your own fence. And maybe think through what they might say that isn't reasonable, so you're prepared to decline. At least, say you'll give it some thought instead of agreeing right away. For me, anyway, this would be the kind of logistical thing where I know I might not have thought of everything myself.

The only thing that I might think about, for myself, is the dog on one side. Are you relying on your fence to keep their dog out of your yard? Because maybe you yourself want to keep it up for that reason. Also, the child at the other house might be a toddler now, but are things set up such that when they get older, they might wander into your yard a lot? With the fence gone will it be hard to tell where one yard ends and the other begins?

The parts with fences from the other neighbors sound like they could definitely go. But, it might still be worth mentioning it to them first, in case one of them says, "Actually, we were just about to tear ours down!" which might influence your decision.
~Lynn2000

Library Dragon

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 09:32:04 PM »
POD. You may have to agree to a timeline that may be a month or more.  You don't want to have the toddler or dog wandering into your yard.

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m2kbug

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 09:46:24 PM »
I think I would alert my neighbors that I would be tearing down my fence within a certain time frame so that they can make their own arrangements.  You can choose three months, six months, next spring after the snow melts, or by next summer, so basically a year.  If you dialogue, they can perhaps give you a time frame that they need, but you need to cap off your own limit and and then you're getting rid of it.  Whatever you think is reasonable. 

shhh its me

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 09:53:42 PM »
  I think you can tear it down but I would double check that once you (or the previous owners) built onto each other fences with permission there is no obligation of notice or anything else.

Assuming you have no obligations I would give them reasonable notice to deal with the fence.  I'd think 60 days minimum and if they said "Can we have 90-120 days?" I would say defiantly say yes. I would consider next spring/summer but I'm not sure I'd give them that long. 

kudeebee

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 10:31:03 PM »
We tore down our fence several years ago.  We went to the three neighbors and told them that we were taking the fence down in 3 weeks.  Left side and back didn't care as they had no need for the fence.  Right side neighbor asked if we would leave it up and he would maintain it as he had a dog and was planning to move in two or three months.  So, we agreed to that but told him when he sold that the fence was going down.  When he listed the house, we contacted his agent and made sure that she knew that fact and that when he was moved out, the fence was going down that day or the next as we didn't want to be responsible for it anymore. And that is what we did.

Technically, yes, it is your fence, on your property and you could go out tomorrow and take it down. I do think it is nice to let the neighbors know--the back and left side--what you are planning to do.  Since right side has their own fence, I wouldn't worry about them.  I think you decide when you want to take the fence down, talk to the neighbors (call the landlord on the left if you know who he/she is or get the info from the renter.)  I would think 3 to 4 weeks or even less, depending on when you can get help is reasonable.

If it is on your property, I would not let it remain there, even if the neighbors say they will take care of it.  You do not need the liability of it.  Instead, you can offer to give them the pieces of the fence so that they can use it to build their fence.  If they want the pieces, they should help you carefully take down the fence--panels, posts, etc--saving as much as you can and put it in their yards.  If they don't want it, set it by the curb or offer it on freecycle--seems like there is always someone looking for fencing.

Harriet Jones

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 11:32:37 PM »
It is yours to tear down as you wish, but I'm with everyone else -- I think it would be a good idea to let the affected neighbors know.

Mergatroyd

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2014, 12:05:23 AM »
Well, if someone wanted to take down part of the fence that surrounds my backyard I'd want to know in advance so I could replace it.

At the old house, one side of the fence was in very rough shape, but we didn't have the funds to replace it. We spoke with the neighbours on that side about potentially splitting the costs of getting the section replaced, and they said they would do that if we waited a year. We ended up moving first, but I do wonder if they would actually have put up the money.


KarenK

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2014, 08:56:53 AM »
I think I'd simply inform the neighbors that the fence will be coming down in one month and be done with it. I would not want them to think that they had any say at all about what I do with my fence, but it is kind to give them notice.

MrTango

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2014, 09:02:03 AM »
I wouldn't allow my neighbors' opinions to affect my decision on whether or not to tear down the fence, nor would I allow their convenience or inconvenience to determin the timing of the tear-down if that's what I ended up deciding to do.

I'd go ahead and make all the arrangements to have it torn down and notify the neighbors about a week or so before.  I'd phrase the notification along the lines of "The fence on my property will be torn down on (date)."  I'd deliberately phrase the letter so that it leaves no room for them to think I was asking for their opinions on the matter.

Possum

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2014, 11:39:43 AM »
The fence is yours and on your property, and is yours to do with as you wish.  However, it'd make for good neighbors if you'd let the others know--both so they can be prepared to lose that boundary, and so they can be prepared for a day or two of noise and mess.  If they offer to help repair it instead, since it's a benefit to them to have it stay up, then you can always work with them then.  But you don't have to put up with a fence you own but don't like, just because it benefits someone else who invests no money or upkeep in it.

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2014, 12:34:32 PM »
I had this exact issue about a month after I joined the forum, but I was on the other side of it (if you'll pardon the pun)  My neighbours tore the fence down and replaced it without forewarning or talking to me about it at all.  My dogs ended up in my neighbour's yard (as soon as I knew, I brought them back in and kept them tethered when outside) and the fence guys were horrified and apologetic that they were tramping around in my yard thinking that I had okayed them being there (as per the neighbour) when really I didn't know anything about it.

They weren't obligated to warn or consult me, but honestly I would have appreciated if they had.  If I'd known, I would have made arrangements for my dogs to be elsewhere that weekend, and if they'd told me they were putting up chain link because it's cost-effective, I would have offered to contribute half in order to get something better and better-looking.  Also, the fence that was there previous was wood, and my side gate was meant to latch into the wood fence....their replacing it with chain link rendered my (necessary for the dogs) gate inoperable.  The neighbour's brother (neighbour is an elderly lady and her brother hand;es most of her affairs) tried to tell me I owed for half the fence, as well, but that's a whole different thing altogether.

So, in my opinion while you're certainly not obligated to contact your neighbours about the fences (if indeed they are on your property, and not right on the property line) it does affect them and would be the courteous, considerate thing to do.  I have to replace my other side fence soon and I intend on speaking to my neighbours first. I'm sure if they want to split the cost, we can come to an accord that suits us both.  If they're not interested, they'll just have to live with what I put in.

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AvidReader

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2014, 12:48:37 PM »
Now for a completely different point of view.  :)   If your big project this year is your roof, you are a property owner of long-standing and probably intend to stay in the house for the forseeable future.  If this were my situation, while I might not need/want the fence because I don't have pets or young children anymore, I would repair the fence in order to get a few more years out of it then replace it as funds became available and the project drifted up my priority list.  I have three reasons:  1) it would keep the neighbors' children and pets out of my back yard, 2) depending on its design, it might allow privacy/screening for me to enjoy my backyard without without everyone else watching, and 3) eventually I would be selling, and a fence would be a plus for the new owner. 

magicdomino

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Re: Fence quandary
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2014, 01:01:06 PM »
I'm in the opposite situation:  my back yard is fenced-in on three sides by other people's fences.   I actively dislike the tall privacy fences along the sides, and the one along the back is an old wire fence that is half-fallen, so right now, I wouldn't mind at all if the fences were torn down.  However, if I had a dog, and was depending on those three fences, I'd appreciate a heads-up, so that I can plan on replacing the missing side.  Depending on the state of the fence, I might be willing to take over repairs and/or maintenance to keep that side going for about a year until I can afford to replace it.

In short, a warning is greatly appreciated.  I'd really like to have more than a month of warning if possible, because replacement fences are expensive.