A good fence can help you shut out the world, corral your pets and kids, and set clear boundaries with your neighbors. However, fences sometimes become the source of conflicts — particularly when they’re erected in the wrong spot or cutting off someone’s view.
If you’re in a dispute with your neighbor over a fence, here are some tips on how to handle it:
- Remain polite. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by engaging in a war of words with your neighbor, and threats are always going to make the other party defensive.
- Look at local ordinances. If the fence is an eyesore or blocking your view, you may have recourse through your homeowners’ association or community ordinances. Some municipalities have strict codes regarding fence height, materials and condition.
- Get a surveyor. If your neighbor is willing, you may even split the cost to find out exactly where the boundary between your properties sits. (Ideally, you should agree to abide by the surveyor’s report and move the fence, if necessary.)
- Negotiate directly. Unless your neighbor is aggressive or unwilling to even discuss the issue, it may be worthwhile to talk about possible solutions. If the fence is a few inches over your property line, for example, you may be willing to sell a foot of land along the border to your neighbor so that the fence can stay put. Or, maybe you can just help your neighbor relocate the fence over a long weekend.
If all your attempts to compromise or work out a peaceful solution fail, it may be time to talk about your problem fence with an attorney. There may be legal options you haven’t considered available.