Maryland is subject to some pretty harsh weather, this year alone, we’ve seem some incredibly powerful storms come through. Storms with enough wind and power to damage properties and cause trees and limbs to break. So what happens is a tree falls on your property and breaks a shared fence? Who will pay for the repair, who is really responsible?
The answer isn’t easy, but it boils down to both parties being equally responsible. A shared fence is also called a boundary fence, it sits on the boundary line between two properties. Boundary fences technically belong to both property owners, as long as they both use it, and every state will interpret “use” very differently.
Most of the time neighbors are, well, neighborly. When an accident happens that effects the joint property line, the cost is discussed, plans are made for repair, and the bill is split equally. Some however, do not have the luxury of living next to such easy going neighbors and may have to repair a fence themselves and suffer the consequences.
There are many resources on shared fence “etiquette” that offer advice on how to approach a neighbor and bring up the repairs in a respectful manner. It is very important, especially if you don’t have a preexisting relationship with your neighbor, that you casually bring up the issue, discusses it openly, and do not discuss cost. Once an open line of communication is made, and repair is a joint decision, contractors and cost can become part of the conversation.
If you do have a true shared fence built between property lines, that must be repaired, and you take on the cost yourself, you do have the option to write a letter requesting the neighbor pay half and include clear statements of invoice for the repair, then hope that they pay for it.
If this seems a little vague, that’s because it is, fencing laws tend to be localized, and even then the rules on who owns the fence get a bit complicated. Having excellent relationships with your neighbors helps, especially if you already know you share a fence with them. There is one thing that is perfectly clear North American Deck and Patio will make sure you get the best possible fence for your home.