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Neighbor's Fence Issue
Old 10-18-2009, 09:42 PM   #1
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Neighbor's Fence Issue

I have a neighbor in my subdivision, that has decided to put a privacy fence and pool in his back yard. The layout of our lots is unique to say the least (due to the layout of our subdivision's streets, and lots). The back of his house faces the side of my house, and his lot cuts diagonally across the side of my house and into what I consider part of my front yard (though it is his backyard). I was not aware of this until he had the lots surveyed.

He is waiting on approval from the HOA regarding his plans (He has given me some general information regarding his plan). I have asked the HOA for his plans as well. They are dragging their feet, as they are appear to be trying to interpret some of the HOA covenants/restrictions (and are consulting their attorney).

Due to the way the road curves and the postion of our houses, his fence will "appear" to be in my front yard. I believe it will negatively affect the value of my house.

I am going to a homeowner's meeting this week to see about addressing this issue. I am trying to work this out amicably, but it could spiral downward quickly...

I am wondering if anyone here has any recommendations. I have a friend who knows a friend who has an Uncle, who knows any attorney that said I may be able to get an injunction if my neighbor's fence negatively affects the value of my property...any merit to this? Should I get an attorney now? Rely on the HOA? I'm a little confused as to what to do right now, as I have never had any dealings with HOA's...my neighbor is hoping to break ground this week.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:11 PM   #2
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ugggh. no good advice here as i am thoroughly confused by the description of the lots...not sure you will have a leg to stand on really regarding it 'devaluing' your lot...it is his lot and he may do as he wishes, with HOA approval...

good luck, and keep us posted. maybe make a drawing and post it if you can?
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:20 PM   #3
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There is not much that you can do if everything he builds is in accordance with local codes, and subdivision covenants and restrictions.
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgotch View Post
I am wondering if anyone here has any recommendations. I have a friend who knows a friend who has an Uncle, who knows any attorney that said I may be able to get an injunction if my neighbor's fence negatively affects the value of my property...any merit to this? Should I get an attorney now? Rely on the HOA? I'm a little confused as to what to do right now, as I have never had any dealings with HOA's...my neighbor is hoping to break ground this week.
If the fencing is on his property (not infringing on yours) and if it conforms to local building codes (height above grade, materials, & quality of construction), and if it conforms to the HOA's rules (design committee or CC&R) then it usually doesn't matter what you think.

If you wanted to contest the fence then you'd have to convince the HOA that their rules are somehow incorrect, or incorrectly applied, and that it adversely affects the value of your property. And if they didn't agree with you then you'd have to start over again with the next level of city/county govt.

The whole process is very adversarial, time-consuming, and expensive. It's also usually unsuccessful.

Another option might be to discuss the issue with your neighbor. If he feels that a fence is necessary, then perhaps the two of you could share its cost to design one that looks good from both sides, or you could extend it along your property to make it look better. Or you could landscape your property with shrubbery to hide his fence. Or maybe you could even offer to pay him a certain amount of money to not build a fence-- which is probably cheaper compared to the costs of litigation.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:12 AM   #5
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Not trying to be a jerk, but why should the HOA give you his plans? Seems that he has done the right thing by letting you know what he's planning to do. As others have said, it's his property to do with as he pleases as long as he conforms to codes/HOA regulations. Sorry that it doesn't please you, but that goes with the territory in subdivisions. This sounds like the beginning of a lot of unpleasantness for you and the neighbors. Too bad.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:37 AM   #6
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If the fence gets approved and it is truly unsightly, your best bet is to try and conceal it using perhaps clever landscaping on your side of the fence.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Another option might be to discuss the issue with your neighbor. If he feels that a fence is necessary, then perhaps the two of you could share its cost to design one that looks good from both sides, or you could extend it along your property to make it look better. Or you could landscape your property with shrubbery to hide his fence. Or maybe you could even offer to pay him a certain amount of money to not build a fence-- which is probably cheaper compared to the costs of litigation.
I have no legal expertise (or any expertise, really). But I second this emotion. I'd take the guy a plate of cookies (GOOD cookies) and ask if you can discuss the design, and maybe offer some bucks to pay to make it look better from your side. Fences don't have to be ugly.
Hey, it could be worse, it could be the city or state claiming eminent domain and putting a road or worse where his house used to be (voice of sad experience).
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:38 AM   #8
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I also agree with Nords, see if you can work with the neighbor to come up with an attractive design. I believe your neighbor is being prudent to put a fence around his pool. It could avert a tragic accidental drowning. I would not be at all surprised if his homeowner's insurance is a lot less expensive with the fence than without it for that very reason. If the fence is truly hideous, I suggest the landscaping. You can buy a lot of landscaping for what a lawsuit would cost. I would suggest if you are thinking of bringing in a professional, make it a landscape architect rather than a lawyer. You can robably buy a lot of landscape design and installation for what a lawsuit would cost you, and it will increase your property value, perhaps above what it would have been with no fence, which a lawsuit wouldn't.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:35 AM   #9
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Thanks for the answers. I didn't think there was a lot I could do in regards to placement of the fence.
The one issue that may still be up for debate is the interpretation of the HOA restrictions.

Quote:
No fence of any kind shall be permitted on any lot
from the street to the rear line of the house constructed
thereon; beyond the rear line of the house, no fence shall exceed
four feet in height and shall be rustic rail type or alternative
accepted by Developer or Association. For corner lots, in
addition to the foregoing fence and wall restriction pertaining
to said lots, no fence or wall shall be erected, placed or
suffered to remain upon said premises nearer to any street upon
which the lot abuts than the building line of the residence
constructed on the lot nearest to said street
.
The way I interpret this restriction is; since my neighbor is on a corner lot , he must come directly off the back of the house in a straight line (which gives me a little breathing room in my yard). My neighbor stated he was going to come out from the corner of his house, but angle out (towards his side street - my street) about 15% to follow the curve of the road, ending in the furthest corner of his lot, just inside the easement. (I will try to post a picture later, as I know it is hard to visualize this). The neighbor also has a bump out on his garage (about 3 ft. on the front/side of his house) which the HOA is also trying to decide if his fence can start here, or from his house.

So, since this appears to be open to interpretation, I am trying to figure out my options.

I asked for his plans because I have talked with a board member of our HOA, who stated they have an attorney interpreting the restrictions in relation to the plans. If this is the case, then I feel it is my right to be informed. They may not give them, but I see no harm in asking.

My guess is, this will come down to he and I sitting down to discuss. (which most of you stated).
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:31 AM   #10
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Looks like a set of rules that work well if lots are squared off and the houses are seated along the same lines. The lawyer may find the rules a ambiguous when applied to you and your neighbor's situation. I can see his argument about following the curve of the road as at no point would the fence be closer to the road than the house. But it sounds like the intent of the rule is to have open front yards and from how you describe the situation your front yard would not be open if he follows the curve of the road.

Let us know how it works out. It is hard to draft rules for every situation.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:54 PM   #11
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I agree with the rest of the people... you probably don't have much in this to be able to change what he wants to do legally...

You do not need pictures as much as an overhead drawing of the streets and the lots... maybe get a Google earth pick of the place and draw a few lines so we understand...
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by tgotch View Post
The way I interpret this restriction is; since my neighbor is on a corner lot , he must come directly off the back of the house in a straight line
From your clip of the restrictions, it looks like corner lot owners can not build fences closer to the street than where their house is
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:15 AM   #13
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Offer to BUY the piece of land you consider your front yard. You'll need to pay the surveyor and filing fees too. Won't be cheap .... but it'll solve your problem - if he agrees.

FWIW, we live in a historic (think OLD) town .... deeds reference hand and chain lenghts. Sooo my neighbor CLEAR CUTS 50-60 mature trees around his house ... 13k worth of work. THEN has the lot surveyed (thinks he's putting in a pool) only to find that he doesn't own ANY of the trees he cut down. We promptly put up a fence. They dispute the survey. The other neighbor SUES (wants thier fence paid for). A counter suit claims 20 year use of the land makes it thiers. 3 years later the counter suit fails and the poor guy is surrounded by fence he never wanted on a lot half the size he thought he bought.

Yes it can get UGLY.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:47 AM   #14
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I live on a cul de sac and the side of my front yard has the back yard fence of one of my neighbors. Several years ago, their fence was in bad condition and kept falling over into my yard and it looked horrible. I eventually planted some hedges that are now about 12-13 feet high and completely hide their fence from view. So regardless of what the condition of their fence is, I don't have to look at it anymore. So you can do alot with landscaping to make it look better.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:48 AM   #15
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Just wanted to give a little update:
The neighbor put the pool in, but could not get the approval for the privacy fence he wanted. He ended up hiring an attorney to try to amend the bylaws to fit his needs. Even went door-to-door/email with his campaign. (Of course I responded with my thoughts on his email )

The HOA was required to send out a vote card to all homeowners to vote for amending the bylaws (paraphrasing the bylaws - they actually state "no privacy fences without approval, split rail type only - with wire mesh").

Homeowner is stating split rail is a safety issue. Will be interesting to see how everyone votes.
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Old 11-14-2009, 02:38 PM   #16
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Wonder what his homeowners insurance thinks of no fence around a pool?
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Old 11-14-2009, 02:44 PM   #17
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Several states have laws requiring that pools be fenced, for obvious reasons. Sounds like your state does not have such a law otherwise I'm sure you'd be all over it.
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Old 11-14-2009, 03:09 PM   #18
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- Right, many/most areas do require a fence around a pool, and most insurance companies require it. So does common sense. Pools are dangerous. Are there other homes wit pools in your neighborhood? What have they done?

- Maybe he'll end up putting a high non-privacy fence (e.g. 6' high aluminum) close to the pool decking. That would be a good answer for you.
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Old 11-14-2009, 04:02 PM   #19
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The original post was talking about a privacy fence, not one to protect people from the pool...

I would think a small fence around the pool would be good enough for protection... but a big wood fence around the whole yard for privacy...


STILL, no drawing or pics...
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Old 11-14-2009, 04:30 PM   #20
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The original post was talking about a privacy fence, not one to protect people from the pool...

I would think a small fence around the pool would be good enough for protection... but a big wood fence around the whole yard for privacy...


STILL, no drawing or pics...
Agreed, but I'm surprised he has gone ahead without either type of fence.
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