Q: Is a neighbor you share a backyard fence with required by law to pay half when the fence needs replacing? (Mississippi)
This was an existing fence in a portion of my backyard when I purchased my home in 2003. It fell down during Katrina and my neighbors added 2x4 support boards to the existing frame and hung it back up. It’s an eyesore and it’s rotten and falling down. I have written them and tried to discuss replacement, but they refuse to contribute to the cost. Local people say I own the fence because of the way the “good side” faces and the homeowner has actually threatened me when I said it was coming down. I need to know what the law actually is regarding this matter. Thank you for clarifying for me.
A: The fence belongs to (i.e., is owned by) whoever's property it is on. There may be a zoning/building ordinance in your city/county that requires that the "smooth" side of the fence be on one side or the other, you would need to check that with your local planning and/or building department. But, even if so, that does not mean that fences are nevertheless sometimes built not in compliance with that type of ordinance. Either way, the "neighborly" thing to do would obviously be to share in the expense (but you'll then also probably have to have the discussion about who gets what "side" of the fence (absent an ordinance specifying)), but there is no law requiring an adjoining landowner to pay half of an expense for an improvement on your property, even if it is an obvious benefit to them as well. If you do not know whose property the fence is on, you will need a survey. If it is on the neighbor's property, you can consider putting up your own fence, but you would want to make sure to check with the planning and/our building department in your jurisdiction before doing so.
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