Q: Our next-door neighbor wants to put up a fence between our properties and insists that I have to pay half. I am fine with a fence if he wants one, but I am not going to fence the rest of my property and do not think I should have to pay for even part of it. What are my rights? – Nathan
A: Unless your community association rules require it, you have no legal responsibility to fence in your property. You do not have to agree to pay for part of the fence your neighbor is putting up. Without your consent, you will not be forced to contribute. However, you also cannot stop him from fencing his property.
The fence he installs will need to comply with the local guidelines and cannot interfere with the normal use of your property. If you have a nice view of a canal, he cannot install a high, solid-style fence that unreasonably blocks your view. He can install the fence up to the property line, but not over it.
If you give in and agree to contribute to the installation, you may also have to help maintain it later. You and your neighbor should write down your agreement so that there are no misunderstandings later. Of course, if you do not agree there will be nothing to write down. You do not need a contract to say you are not participating, but if you want to be safe, you can send him an e-mail or letter so there is no question of your intentions later.
When the fence is installed make sure that no part of it crosses over the boundary line onto your property. If it does, you should notify your neighbor in writing of the encroachment.
Even though he lives next door, send him a certified letter so that you have proof. The letter will protect you if he ever claims that your property on his side of the fence is his. If he does not move the fence, do not do it yourself because you will need to fix any damage you cause. Instead, you will need to take him to court.
By Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel. Gary M. Singer is an 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 frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on twitter at GarySingerLaw.