Border Wars: Neighbors and Fences
I apologize in advance for captivating your attention under, perhaps, false pretenses. This article is about my awkward dealings with my next-door neighbors and not the complex socio-economic relationship between the United States of America, United Mexican States, and Canada (United Territories of Canada?)
When we bought our house in a new development, the border fences between properties had not been built yet. In my naïveté I had assumed that it was customary to split the cost on a fence. I also assumed it was mandated by the HOA to put up a fence. Therefore, when I consulted with the neighbors on either side of us (we had no neighbors to our rear), I was completely floored when one neighbor said they do not want a fence. Is that even an option? I thought we had to build one per HOA code. Nope.
Well okay then. When pressed if they would split the cost of the fence (because we wanted one) they said they’re not interested but that we could get one if we wanted to.
At least the neighbors on our other side were willing to split the cost.
“Tall fences make good neighbors”
So, I went online to do some research. Here is what I found.
People don’t like to pay for things.
After pages and pages of online searching for “my neighbor doesn’t want to split cost for fence…” not one internet article/Q&A board/post talks about fences from my side (pun not intended) – wanting to put up a fence and split the costs. Instead, almost every fence post (pun intended) was written about people complaining that their neighbor was being pushy into getting a fence that they did not want or want to pay for.
There were a couple exceptions. I found one article talking about a fence that had been damaged by weather and the fence was on both properties…except this wasn’t my situation and the statute in question concerned only Californians (United State of California). I even posted a question on Reddit asking what people thought of my situation, and the comments ranged from “Glad I’m not living next to YOU!” to “Thank god you’re not MY neighbor,” (not much of a range.) Great, now I’m the jerk.
Not my intention, to make someone pay if they don’t want to, but was looking for advice. Instead of answering my inquiry with “new fences must be agreed upon by both parties, otherwise the interested party builds only on their side of the boundary,” I was even more bewildered.
I discussed the matter with two attorneys (friends, not for professional reasons) and their experience is that it is considered a social norm or a form of neighborly-etiquette to split the cost of a fence. Unfortunately, some people lack either the etiquette or money. Understandable. Neighbor still does not want to split costs, even after we’ve confronted them a couple of times.
So, do we just throw our hands up and pay for the entire fence ourselves?