Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fences and Neighbors...

A surprising number of homeowners are bucking the notion that good fences make good neighbors and taking down the fences in favor of bigger gardens and more space to entertain.

While some homeowners are turning previously neglected corners into shared garden and dining spaces, togetherness does have its down sides. Gardening expenses can be split evenly, but who pulls the weeds and who gets to pick the fruit? What happens when one neighbor wants to sell? Some people draw up legal contracts to help prevent acrimony and spell out how they will disband.

Additionally, yard-sharing is rare in new developments of single-family homes with privacy fences often required under community covenants and building codes.

A shared yard also could dampen an individual home’s value and prolong the time spent on the market, as potential buyers likely will want to put up a fence instantly, adding costs to the home.

Because of these issues, some real estate agents are advising that neighbors restore fencing when either home is offered for sale. It is best to install the fence before the listing the home, as some buyers will not want to be the bad new neighbor who required a fence.

It is my experience that fences provide ample material for problems during a transaction: over the years, the fence may have been replaced, not necessarily by both neighbors, and it may not always be at the right place. Only a surveyor will help you in that case, to determine exactly where the property line is.  Sometimes, a part of the fence has been moved to accomodate a tree, or a structure.  This brings the need to draft an agreement to recognize that and memorialize it, possibly.  An attorney is best to do that.
Obviously the matter is more present in the Hills, where lots are larger.

More often than not, it is in the front part of the properties that you would find fences that are omitted, and there one might see a "shared" front yard.  Still in that case, I believe that it is good to keep a line on the ground, or another mark of sort, to delineate the separate lots. 
Finally, I would note here to keep in mind that typically, when rebuilding a fence, you need a permit.  The City is the best source of info for this.  This is an advice to both buyers, and sellers.

Do you have an experience, good or bad on the matter?  I'd love to hear it!
Thanks for reading,

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