Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Good fences make good neighbors is the saying. This must be true because we are having “words” with the condo next door over a not-so-good fence!

Last year the fence that the condo built years ago started to fall down. We told them we would pay half if they wanted to replace it. Well it went to committee and then a vote and they decided not to replace it. Instead they decided to plant a hedge in it’s place. We had experience with hedges in the past and did not want one. They are messy, high maintenance and tend to spread both vertically and horizontally. We have an ocean view that we do not want to lose and as much of our land is unusable slope, we have limited level lawn and flower garden space that we do not want encroached upon by the neighbors hedge.

Our argument did no good and they planted a hedge along the property line, leaving three remaining sections of fence at the back. This last piece of fence was in fairly good shape and was protecting a slope onto the rear of their property.

This winter a tree fell and destroyed the fence. We arrived home to a letter from the condo stating that since it was our tree that fell, they expected up to replace the fence, entirely at our cost. Last weekend we had a close look as our son and Linda were up and would do the work for “free”, meaning gallons of beer and kilos of shrimp(;>) Brooks and I had a close look and determined the fence was well on their side of the property line and it was not at all clear whose tree it was anyway. It was either on the property line or maybe even on their side. It was almost like they were trying to pull a fast one. When it was up to them to replace the main fence, they refused. Now they want me to spend hundreds (plus beer and shrimp) to replace the piece they left standing.

Brooks called and explained all this to them. He said we did not feel it was our total responsibility to pay for the fence and that if they wanted to split the cost, he would give them an estimate (he has a fencing business) and they could do the work right away. This would work out because their half would pay for material and my half would be the beer and shrimp.

Failing an agreement on that that we said we would tear down the broken fence and replace it with the same hedge material they used last year. We all agreed that the exact location of the property line is unclear and a survey would cost many times the cost of a new fence.

Well, everyone went back to their respective corners with the condo people saying they were going to call their insurance company and have them take a look.

Today a couple of guys were looking at the fence but disappeared as soon as we went outside. It looks like the Hatfields and McCoys will be at it for a while yet!

1 comment:

  1. Croft, there has to be some literature somewhere indicating who is responsible for the fence. It's common property in most strata/condo's. This means that the condo board is responsible for the fence. You did not put the fence up, so it's not an "improvement/betterment" and it's not your fault the tree fell down (again you probably didn't plant that either).
    I think you should not have to take any responsibility. I lived in a condo for 5 years, and even sat on the board, and when our fences started deteriorating, we (as a board) covered the cost of same. We even offered to help paint the fence (as a condo owner) if the board would erect the new fence themselves. Just to be kind.
    Insurance may/may not pay for same either. Although this is deemed an "act of god" and is covered, Im certain that the deductible that your condo board holds on the collective policy is well above the actual cost of replacing the portion of the land/fence that was damaged as well as the removal of the remainder of the tree.
    You have many options, check the wordings, you have a good case to NOT have to pay for it if the By-Laws are clear.
    and they should be.
    If you need any further advice, let me know.
    This is my area of expertise and I am happy to help.