Bad fence, crazy neighbor
September 1, 2014 4:08 PM Subscribe
I'm repairing a section of picket fence that I had built ten years ago between my yard and the property next door. The fence fell down last spring. My neighbor didn't say anything about the fence or the repairs or property lines until the contractor I hired to repair the fence started putting new posts in the original fence post holes. Then she went even more nuts than she already was.
posted by caryatid to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The fence being repaired was built in 2004 to replace an old chain-link fence that was mostly missing, and I put it exactly where the former fence was, so that it lined up with the end post of the picket fence that enclosed the front and other side of my front yard. I did this with the knowledge and permission of my then-next-door neighbors.
My current neighbor bought the property in 2006 with this fence already in place. This is not the first time she's had issues with a fence (and issues in general) - one of the first things she said to me was that the previous owners must have removed a section of fence between our houses and taken it with them when they moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania, after they sold her the house. This is absurd on several counts: 1) there was no fence between our houses (only between the front and back yards), 2) my former neighbors would not do such a dishonest thing, and 3) who would dig up and move a fence across the country?
First she sent me a certified letter telling me I was building a fence on her property, and I must stop/get a building permit (I don't need one - I'm not building a fence, I'm repairing an existing fence). She harasses my contractor. She calls and leaves messages demanding that I "stop building a fence on her property." She claims she had a survey done that shows the fence is on her property, but she has never produced the survey. She alternately calls it her fence and my fence. By now you have guessed that she's more than a little bit unstable.
She filed a complaint with the city. A city inspector came out, listened to both of us, looked at the fence, and gave me the go-ahead to complete the repairs, and also told me I should definitely make my neighbor pay for half the cost of fixing the fence, since it is a shared boundary. He also mentioned that if my neighbor keeps harassing me about it, he can't help me - that is a "civil matter."
I thought that would settle it, but no - my neighbor hired an attorney, who sent me a letter demanding that I remove the fence entirely (at my expense) and pay half the cost of a survey to determine the property line (even though she said she's already had it done). Mind you, if the fence WERE on her property, it'd be by no more than half an inch - the fence lines up with the boundary line fence that she had built a few years ago between our houses, which I had no problem with. I realized this morning that I was afraid to go out and paint the new fence posts for fear of her attacking me. This has to stop.
So my question is: How do I get this unreasonable person to knock it off? I am 99% sure I can win if this goes to court, and probably get punitive damages and a restraining order as well as half the cost of the fence, but I don't want the hassle. I just want to fix the fence in peace and avoid my cray-cray neighbor as much as possible. Of course, it would also be nice if she moved, so I'd welcome suggestions on getting her to do that, too.