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Real Estate Q&A: Fences Don’t Always Make Good Neighbors

Sometimes the fencing between neighbors is the cause of a problem rather than a solution. What if a neighbor with no ownership stake in the fence decides to hang a plant on the side facing their lawn? What if overgrown vines start destroying the wood?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: My neighbor attached bolts into my fence to secure some items in his yard. I am concerned that this will damage my fence, especially if there is a storm. I asked him to remove it, but he blew me off. What can I do? – Jonathan

Question: My neighbor’s overgrown vines are destroying my fence. I asked them to trim them back and only get lip service. The vines remain and are getting worse. What are my rights? – Mary

Answer: Sometimes, neighbors will build and maintain a shared fence together. In your case, you put up the fence yourself and have no deal with your neighbor for them to help maintain it. Your neighbor does not have any right to attach anything to your fence unless you let them. If they damage your fence, they will be responsible for paying for the repairs.

Since you want them to remove the attachments altogether, you both already took the first step of speaking to them. The next step is sending a polite and professional certified letter, even though you live next door.

You can trim any vegetation that is on your side of the fence as long as it does not permanently damage the plant. You should not reach over the fence to remove the plants or hardware, even if you believe the fence is on your side of the line.

To get them to remove the unwanted items from their side of your fence, you will need to file a lawsuit asking for an order making them remove their plants and attachments from your fence.

Having a survey that shows the fence is fully on your property, along with proof you put up the fence, will go a long way to convincing the judge you are in the right.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

© 2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.