There’s a popular saying coined by Robert Frost in his poem “Mending Wall”: “Good fences make good neighbors.” The idea is, generally, that this eases the ability for neighbors to respect one anothers’ property by taking the gray-zones out of where one parcel ends and another begins. (It’s amazing how angry people can get when a neighbor simply mows one row beyond where they believe their property begins.) But this proverb (so to speak) does beg the question: when there’s a fence sitting right on the property line, who does it belong to? Who is responsible for its care? For repairs?
Often this issue will only arise after a big storm causes some damage to a fence or it falls into decrepitude. Until then a long-standing fence will be considered a given, and both neighbors will have benefited from its presence. Now, all of a sudden, someone has to pay for (at the very least) materials to make the repair, and possibly for labor as well. And you might be surprised how quickly “the fence” becomes “their fence” or “your fence.”
In this case one must look to local ordinances. Arizona state law makes no specific reference to disputes concerning walls or fences; and generally it is assumed that both neighbors assume responsibility for a common fence. Responsible and conscientious neighbors will realize that the fence is there to both their benefits, and will split the cost of repair. (That said, if damage done to the fence has clearly been caused by one of the neighbors, it would be best for that neighbor to take the repairs on—a court will generally make them do so at any rate.) When it falls on both parties, but one set of neighbors has become stubborn about the issue, there may be no recourse other than to go to court to settle the situation.
If you’ve run into a property boundary issue in Mesa or anywhere else in the state of Arizona, call us to consult with an experienced attorney with strong scruples. At Provident Law, our real estate attorneys represent parties on either side of real estate and financing transactions, including landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, trustees, guarantors, shareholders, partners, and others. We structure, negotiate and document a variety of real estate and financing transactions, such as leases, purchase and sale agreements, loans and development agreements for a variety of commercial and residential projects. We also help to settle all forms of boundary disputes.Contact us for more details.
Christopher J. Charles is the founder and Managing Partner of Provident Law ®. He is a State Bar Certified Real Estate Specialist and a former “Broker Hotline Attorney” for the Arizona Association of REALTORS ® (the “AAR”). Mr. Charles holds the AV ® Preeminent Rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He serves as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the AAR regarding real estate disputes; and he served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Jury Instructions Committee where he helped draft the Agency Instructions and the Residential Landlord/Tenant Eviction Jury Instructions.
Christopher is a licensed Real Estate Instructor and he teaches continuing education classes at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He can be reached at Chris@ProvidentLawyers.com or at 480-388-3343.