Neighbour Asking to Pay to Fix The Communal Fence (~5k). Am I Liable?

There is a communal wooden fence between our houses. There is an elevation difference the two houses, with my one being higher than his and there is a small gap (10 cms) between the fence and my house.

According to him, the rain water has seeped through that gap and damaged the bottom of the fence. He is asking me to fully cover the expenses of repairing the fence as well damage to his backyard gate. The damage to gate has been caused due the fence bending as a result of the water.

Personally, I do not think that I am liable as I fail to see where my fault in this lies. However, I am hoping to get some of the Ozb wisdom if anyone has anything to offer.

Also, would this be covered by home insurance?

Thanks!

Comments

  •  

    What state are you in?

  • +3 votes

    If the gate is on his property then it is HIS responsibility. All fence work is usually shared 50/50 between the property owners. Are you saying your house is only 10cm from the boundary fence? Some pics might help. As for insurance, you'd have to give your insurance company a call and ask them. On the other hand, fences are supposed to be able to cope with, you know, 'rain' so unless the bottom of the fence was sitting in a puddle of water for a long time due to bad drainage I reckon your neighbour is trying to pull a swifty.

  • +3 votes

    5k ? That's crazy, that would be enough to replace the entire boundary fence. Best thing go halves in repair only

  • +3 votes

    10cm, it doesn't sound like you need a fence.

  •  

    Assuming his lower house was due to him levelling his block and not you raising yours, I would say there's a retaining wall issue, if it and the fence can't handle 'rain', and therefore his problem

  • +1 vote

    Tell him it's a fence not a gutter and that's what he should of looked at doing when he first moved in. Gutters always go in at lowest point so it's hes fault the water has ponded there and he owes you a new colourbond fence from negligence.

  • +2 votes

    Law Access NSW provides a pretty good guide on the NSW law regarding fences and what to do when neighbours can't agree:

    https://www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/Pages/representing/lawassis...

  •  

    There is an elevation difference the two houses, with my one being higher than his

    It sounds like the retaining wall on your side isn't draining properly and overflow is entering the neighbours property.

  • +1 vote

    You have any pictures of the fence?

    Either way its 50/50

  • +1 vote

    Struggle to see how it would be your fault seeing as it’s a boundary fence. Sounds like they’re talking out of their backside.

  • +2 votes

    50/50 unless one of you caused it, like driving into it for example.
    It is like an act-of-god (as they say), so no ones fault really. Thus insurance may see it that way and not cover it.

    I'd offer half for repairs, only if you need/want it repaired.

  • +2 votes

    You are dealing with someone you are living next door to, so tread carefully, just be patient and try to understand what their issue is, just like family. Having an enemy close by isn’t a pleasant thing to live with.

    You have to determine what is causing the damage.

    If it’s just rainfall on the ground that is causing it, then it’s natural damage, and you are both half responsible to repair the fence. Insurance might cover that depending on your policy.

    However as you say the gap between the fence and your house is only 10cm. It’s very unlikely that direct rain is causing the issue.

    It could be runoff from a blocked drain, gutter or other underground water course (even a broken pipe or sewer), this needs to be determined. Is it running off only in rainy times, or always? Is it still wet and water going next door days after rain?

    Personally I would work with the neighbour to see what they are concerned about and why they think it’s your liability. Maybe they have observed when it is occurring.

    Then when you have a better idea you can get better answers on what to do and who can foot the bill for fixing it. No point fixing just the fence if there is an issue that will just return

    • +1 vote

      Some solid advice here.

      Most importantly is to not start a war with the neighbour, who has fired the first shot asking you to pay for the lot to be fixed, which is immature/irrational to begin with. But don't fight fire with fire, it always ends up with a neighbourly war, trust me I've watched ACA.

  • +1 vote

    According to him, the rain water has seeped through that gap and damaged the bottom of the fence. He is asking me to fully cover the expenses of repairing the fence as well damage to his backyard gate. The damage to gate has been caused due the fence bending as a result of the water.

    According to what? A plumbers report? Best guesses?

    I'd be getting an independent second/third opinion in a hurry.

  •  

    Cost of repair / replacement of the boundary fence will be 50/50.

    Your neighbour's gate is his responsibility.

    How old is the fence? Id it's 20+ years old then having rotted fence posts isn't unusual (it's really hard to tell from your description what the issue is).

    Your neighbour might be more amenable to a repair now that they have to pay half.

    All the posts rotted on the fence in my old place about 10 years ago. My neighbour and I put some 50mm water pipe beside the posts and drove them 2 metres into the ground and then attached the old posts to them. The fence is still standing.

  • +2 votes

    Pictures!!

  • Top